Quick Takes: Content Marketing and Media News for 11/16/17

Hoopla, which offers movies and TV shows (as well as e-books, audiobooks and more) on behalf of local libraries, is launching apps for Amazon Fire TV and Apple TV.

Both Google and LinkedIn have launched new career search tools. Google has added information on companies including salary, job application choices and more to search results and made it easy to apply to positions you find. LinkedIn is using the power of its network to encourage people share career advice with seekers and new grads, who can find people to connect with and turn into mentors.

Kickstarter has launched Drip, a new model that expands beyond the single project to let people subscribe to their favorite creators on an ongoing basis. That’a a clear move against Patreon, which has roughly the same deal.

People are cutting the cord on traditional cable TV faster than ever, with twice as many doing so in the last quarter than made the move in the same period last year. They’re being replaced by skinny bundles delivered via over-the-top services.

The Trust Indicator is a joint venture of Facebook, Twitter, Google and Bing – along with Trust Project – that assigns verification to various news media outlets that signal it is in line with the best practices the organization has outlined. That’s good because a recent study has shown those news organizations are way out of their league when it comes to fighting disinformation online.

The FTC is cracking down on a company that has made up quotes from celebrities to sell shady supplements via ads that have run all over the internet, especially in those “Recommended Stories” units. It’s also taking a look at George Takei, who failed to disclose being paid by various news outlets to share their stories.

Want even more recommendations? Check out my Pocket Shared Items.

Chris Thilk is a freelance writer and content strategist who lives in the Chicago suburbs.

Quick Takes: Content Marketing and Media News for 11/9/17

Instagram has made its branded content tagging tools available to more creators with high levels of engagement to make sure everyone is complying with required disclosure around paid relationships. Making that disclosure easier also has the benefit of encouraging more people to use Instagram for their content.

Brand marketers are beginning to work with influential and popular account creators on Musical.ly, something the company’s management is encouraging and facilitating.

Website owners can now embed Facebook Messenger chat functionality on their sites to encourage everyone to use that platform for customer services conversations.

So cool that it seems the future of business depends on how friendly any given company is to the current administration. That’s exactly how both free-market capitalism and democracy are supposed to work, right?

Slow clap for Sen. Al Franken for calling out the closed-system monopolies being created by the big social technology companies like Google and Facebook, which are acting recklessly and irresponsibly given the influence they have over the information presented to the electorate.

Oh, and the fact that Facebook and other companies collect metric tons of data you may not even be aware of to build a profile of you and make various forms of recommendations to you.

If Instagram thought it was going to avoid conversations about how its platform is used to spread political disinformation, nah.

I love this example of The Washington Post participating in conversations on Reddit in helpful and non-promotional ways that are authentic to the platform, not ham-handed and terrible.

One of the cooler product integrations I’ve seen of late, as LinkedIn and Microsoft (which owns LinkedIn) have created Resume Assistant to quickly and easily create resumes based on your profile and keep it updated.

Millennials don’t have a ton of disposable income, even during the years when other generations have been at the peak of their spending power and most susceptible to marketing messages. Crushing student debt and a poor job market will do that. They’re more choosy with where they spend what money they have, focusing on both bargains and companies they view as responsible and ethical socially.

Revenue sharing is the hot new way social networks are buying the loyalty of top creators.

Twitter has launched Promote Mode, a simple system that costs a flat fee of $99 a month for small business and individual brands to promote their profiles without jumping through a lot of hoops.

Chris Thilk is a freelance writer and content strategist who lives in the Chicago suburbs.

Quick Takes: Content Marketing and Media News for 10/12/17

Not surprising that activewear and beauty brands are those most likely to engage in influencer marketing, but it is a bit shocking that 70% of brands across industries have done so.

Time spent in mobile shopping apps is growing, with the biggest players like Amazon and Target seeing the most benefit from that trend.

If you read one thing today, make it Farad Manjoo’s gut-check of the “Frightful Five” technology/entertainment companies and the hold they either have or could have on culture.

Twitter continues to get it wrong on every possible occasion by suspending Rose McGowan’s account in the middle of her crusade against Harvey Weinstein and other abusers, apparently because she included a phone number in one Tweet. Meanwhile, those calling McGowan and countless other women the most terrible of names (not to mention all the racism) are just fine, thanks. She was eventually reinstated.

Publishers are finding Facebook Live isn’t living up to its initial promise and so are reexamining Twitter as a place to host live video programs and broadcasts.

There’s so much good information in this story recapping a study into mobile push alert usage, the issues publishers face in providing them and more. Highly recommended.

Facebook says it deals with “fake news” in about three days after it’s published, which is about two days and 18 hours too late.

Yes, Snapchat is still doing just fine with teenage audiences, who still prefer it to Instagram. At least according to this study. Next week there may be a new one that directly contradicts those numbers. Nothing matters.

YouTube has relaunched its Creators website with more tools on how to produce quality videos and attract an audience.

To the surprise of hopefully no one, LinkedIn is slowing rolling out and experimenting with videos ads that will likely become more and more common as time goes on.

Blah blah blah Facebook 3D posts VR blah blah blah.

Facebook has introduced Stories for Pages, allowing brands and publishers to jump in on the hot new format being adopted by roughly every social and messaging platform in the hopes that someone will please use it because right now no one is.

Content Marketing Updates for 8/25/17

  • Snapchat has introduced Crowd Surf, a new system that uses artificial intelligence to find when many people are sharing video from a concert and assemble also those clips into a single video.
  • Facebook has redesigned its “trending news” section for mobile reading, making it easier to sort through updates and including related stories from a variety of outlets.
  • A redesign of the mobile News Feed in general is designed to emphasize visibility into who’s engaging with a post, where a link might take you and more to make the whole process, presumably, a bit more transparent. It also updated a number of features in the Camera app.
  • A new green dot will show you when someone has been active on Tumblr recently, letting you know who might be available to chat.
  • Instagram has added comment threading to help keep conversations going more naturally.
  • LinkedIn has introduced a new native video creation tool for the mobile app that will be rolling out to all users over time.
  • I’m not going to be switching over to Ghost anytime soon, but it’s great to not only see someone innovating in the blog platform space but also doing so in an open-source manner.
  • Twitter’s Explore tab will begin showing people topics they may be interested in sorted in a way that’s based on their usage of the platform. That’s an attempt to make valuable, relevant information more prevalent, especially to new users.
  • Interesting statistics here on why young adult shoppers prefer the experience on a brand’s own website as opposed to that of a retailer.
  • Could be bad news for Snapchat as influencers identify it as the one they are or are most likely to drop in favor of Instagram and others.
  • Facebook is selling in-stream spots separate from bundled News Feed buys, something that was apparently high up on the list of requests from agencies.
  • The photo you’re responding to on Instagram will now appear as a sticker in the photo you take as the response. Sure, why not.
  • Facebook’s latest target in the News Feed: Video clickbait. Specifically, it’s taking aim at some of the slimy tactics disreputable publishers engage in to trick people into playing their videos.
  • Apparently we’re more prone to make rash, impulsive shopping decisions on our phones than we are in person or on our desktop computers.
  • After bringing GIF-like previews to YouTube, Google is now introducing six-second previews of videos directly in search results to, it says, help inform people as to what they’re about to click on.
  • YouTube is curating a “Breaking news” section across platforms to help people stay connected and/or know what level of panic and despair to maintain.
  • Digital video advertising is growing ever bigger in absolute dollars, but as a percentage of overall digital ad budgets it’s remaining pretty flat.
  • Chat bots are something marketers need to educate themselves on ASAP.
  • Facebook’s new tool lets brands directly boost posts from influencers they’ve engaged in branded content campaigns, keeping the original person’s branding on the post. Ad execs, though, worry that this will lead to influencer posts being suppressed in the feed, diminishing reach unless dollars are spent.
  • Snapchat is the latest platform company to announce it will be moving into providing a home for exclusive scripted video content.
  • Some early success stories coming out of Facebook Watch, though I have to wonder how much of that comes from these videos being given preferential treatment in the News Feed.
  • You can now take 360-degree photos and video from within the Facebook app itself.
  • Publishers in the Medium Partner Program will have the option of making stories available only to members and then be paid based on engagement and reach. That also includes a metered paywall limiting non-members to a set number of “free” posts they can read per month.
  • As part of its effort to help restore trust in what news is shared on its platform, Facebook will display media brand logos next to stories from that site.
  • New updates to the Musical.ly app include a section of recommendations based on what you’ve watched and enhanced user profiles.
  • Email management software is the most common tool used by content marketers, followed by content management systems.
  • Snapchat will let advertisers control whether their ads appear alongside all content or just that produced by the company itself and its media partners.
  • You can now edit Anchor’s new videos and share snippets.

Video is Everywhere, But Time and Money are Finite

Last week the news outlet Mic became the latest player to join the trend of laying off staff as part of a (clears throat) pivot to video. [genuflects] As Peter Kafka notes at Recode, there are a few common factors publishers cite when doing so, the biggest being the desire to tap into the pool of ad dollars everyone things is shifting from TV to the web but which hasn’t yet.

It’s not just publishers, though. Reddit last week announced a native video feature and LinkedIn has introduced video creation with select users as we speak. Facebook recently launched Watch, a portal for original entertainment programming meant to lure creators away from YouTube, which has its own original content things in Red. Snapchat has just announced it has plans to do likewise in the near future. In short, as eMarketer sums up, there’s a massive movement on all fronts to get more and more of the video marketplace, capturing more of the audience’s attention and the advertising dollars that hopefully follow.

Apple has put aside $1 billion it plans to spend on original entertainment content, reportedly interested in making as many as 10 prestige shows a year. Netflix plans to spend $7 billion on original content in 2018 to continue seeding its streaming service with attractive programming that lures people away from HBO. Amazon and Hulu are doing likewise, as is Crackle and a number of other services.

And all that doesn’t even get into the shift by media companies to create their own OTT subscription streaming services. Disney has one in the works which is why they announced they will be pulling much of their library from Netflix, with recent surveys saying 19% of Netflix subscribers would cancel their accounts as a result and about a third of Millennials saying they’d sign up for Disney’s service. CBS has their own service coming and is stocking it with original content like a new “Star Trek” series.

It’s About Attention

Put aside for a second the idea that more than a small fraction of people are going to subscribe to more than one or two of these streaming services. That’s a whole other question that has been discussed by others who have pointed out that once you subscribe to three of the available options you’ve undone whatever savings seen by cutting the cord on cable. Suffice it to say I doubt those surveys mentioned above, particularly the one saying 19% of Netflix customers will ditch the service because they can’t watch Disney movies.

No, the dollars issue doesn’t interest me as much as the question of attention. To my mind, people will make the decision on which services they want to subscribe to based on the amount of attention they have to give more than the dollars they have to spend. So the choice to not subscribe to YouTube Red has less to do with the cost than it does the fact that all of someone’s time is already taken up by Netflix and Hulu. They’ll bypass the videos they see on LinkedIn because they spend so much time watching what’s posted to Facebook, where Watch shows are already seeing some success due likely to the preferential treatment they’re given in the News Feed. They’ll forego Snapchat’s productions because they’ve prioritized Apple’s original shows.

Video Is About Right Now

The main problem with video is that it’s immediate. Text stories and blog posts can be easily saved for later without much impact. But video demands your attention right now, lest you miss out on something important. Not only that but unlike audio, including podcasts, it’s not something you can catch up on effortlessly while in the car or otherwise occupied. If you’re not watching it, you’re missing out.

There are already too many options for people to pay attention to, and the list is only going to grow from here. Eventually, there will be a shakeout and some players will fall by the wayside as winners emerge, chosen by the priorities people give to what deserves their attention just as much as what deserves their cash.

For the time being, though, all these companies and others will be chasing those online advertising budgets, hoping to wind up at the top of the pile. Meanwhile, the audience will be choosing where to place their monetary and attention-based bets, influenced by costs, the influence of their own network of friends and more.

Chris Thilk is a freelance writer and content strategist who lives in the Chicago suburbs.

Pew Shows Facebook Keeps Getting Bigger, Young Women Rule on Social

There’s a new Pew Internet study that covers just how much U.S. adults – specifically those who are regularly online – are using social networks. The research continues to reinforce some patterns with social media that have been pretty standard over the years.

pew-social-media-usage-dec-2016First, social media is primarily women. Of the five networks Pew tracked – Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, Twitter and LinkedIn – four of them are predominantly female-skewing, with LinkedIn being the only exception. Twitter is close (25% women to 24% men) but everything else has a gender gap of at least eight percentage points. Pinterest’s gap is the widest, 45% women versus 17% men, which is to be expected.

Second, 18-29-year-olds continue to rule the roost. That demographic dominates all five networks, sometimes by a little and sometimes by a lot. On LinkedIn the age groups are pretty evenly spread out, ranging from 34% of 18-29s to 20% of those over 65. The biggest disparity is on Instagram, where 59% of 18-29-year-olds are active on the networks but just 18% of those 50-64 and a minuscule 8% of those 65 or older.

What’s interesting is that while Twitter is the least-used network (24% of internet users, 21% of U.S. adults) of the five, it’s not that far from other networks that have far more buzz and positive press. While it’s far outside of Facebook’s usage numbers, so is everything else. It’s within 10 percentage points of Instagram, Pinterest and LinkedIn and none of those networks are the subject of thrice-yearly speculation over whether or not they’ll be shutting down within six months. More than that, Twitter continues to be where the conversation happens and is an invaluable tool (for good or ill) for the press, who use it to monitor what elected officials and other important people are saying because those people themselves are using it.

The report also has interesting stats looking at how users of each network also use the others on the list, as well as the percentage of people who are using the apps daily. And it dives a bit into messaging app usage demographics.

Overall, though, the study reinforces the notion that social media is a tool that’s being used predominantly by young women. That’s not surprising based on historical trends but it is surprising given the level of harassment faced by women in general on these networks. While some, including Twitter and Instagram, have recently begun introducing better tools to take on that abusive behavior, the stigma that social media provides a platform for hateful, racist and sexist commentary that’s often lobbed directly at an individual will be hard to shake.

Every brand program will have a different demographic audience. I’ve seen Facebook pages that had audiences that were 75% male and some that were 80% female. But by default, the audience is made up of young women. If you’re not accounting for that to at least some extent you’re ignoring trends and putting your program at a disadvantage.

LinkedIn Adds Publishing Features

In its continued quest to be a full-fledged publishing platform and not just a social network, LinkedIn has introduced a set of new features and functionality for those who want to write longer posts. It’s updated the interface to be a little less clunky, made it easier to add and edit in-post media like photos and videos and added the ability to include hashtags, which are now searchable.

linkedin-publishing-blog-post

It’s the latest shot in the war of features being waged between LinkedIn and Medium, both of whom are competing to be the best platform for reaching an influential audience. LinkedIn touts the reach to all the professional contacts you’ve spent the last several years building up while Medium promises to…I’m not sure, it just keeps saying it makes publishing easier. These in-network publishing platforms are also all going up against more traditional blog platforms, making the case that it’s better to publish directly to people than it is just to release that content out into the wild web.

LinkedIn Adds Conversion Tracking

LinkedIn wants to help advertisers prove return on investment and so is adding conversion tracking to the ads it displays. That tracking, which requires the addition of a bit of code to the goal website, will help see how LinkedIn ads have lead to sales, signups, downloads or other actions designated by the advertiser. The information available will inform future ad purchasing and targeting decisions.

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Facebook and other social networks have added similar tracking as everyone wants to compete to be the most effective social advertising platform out there. LinkedIn is in a unique place because of its heavy usage in the B2B space, where it’s used by upwards of 90% of companies who maintain active profiles. So if it can help advertisers better reach the decision-makers being targeted the more value it has. This isn’t something that’s going to be sued to sell t-shirts or other consumer merchandise, but will be big in promoting white paper downloads, email signups, requests-for-information and other actions that are in the lead generation field.

 

LinkedIn Ramps Up Mobile Search

LinkedIn is upping its search game, at least through the mobile app. You can now search for keywords in your own feed of updates, search for topics to see who’s talking about something broad or specific and click through hashtags to see what’s been posted using those. Right now those upgrades are available only on mobile, unfortunately, But these are significant updates, regardless. Being able to search your own updates is great for those of us who say “oh I saw an article about that a while ago” but can’t find it. Topic search can open up a world of subject matter experts you can connect with and follow. And hashtag search is…well…hashtag search. In my own experience hashtags aren’t widely used on LinkedIn, so this may not be super-useful, but it’s table stakes for social networks so it makes sense that it was added here.

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Facebook Messenger Bots, NFL on Snapchat and More: Quick Takes for 8/3/16

WNYC is open sourcing its tool for generating “audiograms,” shareable audio clips for social media (Nieman Lab, 8/1/16)

This is a great move. I hope other companies who are developing tools specifically to create different media types for use on social platforms follow suit and open source them, letting anyone access and build off the core idea.

5 Ways Brands Are Incorporating Facebook Messenger Bots in Their Marketing (Adweek, 8/1/16)

Some of these are just fine while some are meant to be more functional. But they show the direction some companies are taking with their Messenger bots. I think there’s going to be a shakeout here in the next six months and that most will wind up leaning more toward the “fun/quirky” angle, with these becoming distractions for people as opposed to actual customer service or other business tools.

Giphy sees opportunity in live-events GIFs (Digiday, 8/1/16)

Giphy has pretty well redefined live-GIFing of events, partly because of its easy integration with other social platforms. I’d love to see, though, what getting this kind of coverage cost the awards show and other event producers since it seems like everyone wants this now.

Your LinkedIn Feed is Coming to Life with Videos from LinkedIn Influencers (LinkedIn Blog, 8/2/16)

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Absolutely unsurprising that LinkedIn would eventually roll out a video offering. While it’s only available to the high-profile Influencers on the network for now it’s more than likely this will be rolled out to everyone in the near future, after some initial testing.

Introducing Instagram Stories (Instagram Blog, 8/2/16)

Much has already been written about how this copies Snapchat functionality in how it encourages sharing of content that evaporates within 24 hours. I’m less interested in that than I am in how this bifurcates both the production and consumption of that content. If people only have so much time to devote to Instagram as a whole, where are they more likely to spend that time, in the standard feed or in Stories? The value proposition is now being made that Stories is where the more interesting material will be found which, when combined with frustration over the filtered standard feed, could lead to a big change in user behavior.

The NFL Is the First Sports League to Get a Snapchat Discover Channel (Adweek, 8/2/16)

This has been rumored for a while, since the NFL put up a job posting that strongly hinted this was coming. Lots of talk about touchpoints and such and it’s clear the league feels it needs to connect more meaningfully with a younger audience. What will be interesting to watch is whether or not this cannibalizes from TV viewership at all.

Google’s speedy mobile publishing tool is now coming for the entire web (Recode, 8/2/16)

I know it’s splitting hairs, but there’s something far less creepy and controlling about AMP than there is with Facebook Instant Articles. Perhaps it’s because it’s about technology that anyone can choose to adopt rather than a gun being held to the head of the media industry that makes it different in my mind. Whatever the case, site publishers of any kind can now implement AMP and get their mobile searches to work faster.

The Daily Signal created a custom engagement index to help it prioritize all its platforms (Nieman Lab, 8/2/16)

A very smart move to actually track the engagement numbers that matter and then using them to inform strategy and tactics. More like this, please.

Report: Snapchat is making scannable codes for the real world (The Next Web, 8/2/16)

Much like when Shazam announced a few months ago that it was working on its own iteration on scannable codes, this shows that QR codes weren’t a bad idea, just that it lacked the form factor for mass adoption. Specifically, no one knew what app to use to scan the darn things. Codes that work with existing apps will likely see much higher usage, assuming the prize at the other end of using them is worth the effort.