Quick Takes: Content Marketing and Media News for 11/14/17

A new study shows that headlines of 90 to 99 characters have the highest click-through-rate, but that runs counter to best practices for search engine optimization and other platforms, so who the hell knows, just do what’s working for you, man.

There seem to be flaws with this study on how the timing of news released on Twitter can influence conversations, but it’s an interesting premise and one that seems worthy of further exploration.

Pinterest has official launched board sections to help people better organize the material they share on that network. And it’s rolled out QR-like codes businesses can add to packages and other material that quickly create shoppable pins, the latest example of the QR code concept being a solid one, even if the initial execution didn’t take off.

There are a number of reasons outlined here as to why Musical.ly may have sold to a giant Chinese company for a reported $800 million, but the point is that this site didn’t exist three years ago and there’s arguably still a lot of potential that remains unlocked.

Mattress company Caspar becomes the latest business to launch its own unbranded print lifestyle magazine.

YouTube has heard the recent round of criticism about the inappropriate nature of many videos that appear at first glance to be aimed at kids and announced moves to try and clean up the problem.

After an unsuccessful rollout of an events-specific app, Facebook is trying again with Local, a new app that offers a single source of local recommendations and reviews from those you know. It also merged Stories with Messenger Day to make posting Stories across channels a bit easier.

Interesting stats here on the top publishing platforms, including how WordPress not only dominates in general but does so specifically in business usage.

I get what Amazon is doing with its reported plans (which it has disputed) to offer a free, ad-supported video service, but I’m failing to see how that can be described as a Netflix competitor, which is what many headlines have done. Meanwhile FullScreen is shutting down its streaming video subscription service, citing the high costs of keeping it going and the fact that the money might be better invested in other areas. And Philo announced it’s launching a subscription service that will, at least initially, only include entertainment content.

Advertisers on Snapchat can now link their Sponsored Lenses and Geofilters to their websites to increase conversion rates and extract more value from those ads.

ESPN is the latest media company to announce big Snapchat plans, launching twice-daily SportsCenter shows on the app.

Artists on YouTube can now add links to Ticketmaster events like concerts to their video descriptions to ease conversions.

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

Quick Takes: Content Marketing and Media News for 11/2/17

While the attention has been on Facebook, Twitter and Google for their politics-related fake news problem, Pinterest has its own issues with health- and food-related material shared there that’s of questionable value.

The share of money earned by video creators on Periscope through “super hearts” is increasing as the company says it will take only a small administrative fee, the hope being to attract more influencers to the platform.

Facebook is touting the usage numbers of both Instagram Stories and WhatsApp Status.

Snapchat advertisers can now more measure track cross-platform stats like site visits through the introduction of pixel tracking, something that’s common most other social networks and ad tools.

Parents can exert a bit more influence on what their youngins are watching with the introduction of YouTube Kid Profiles, which allow for viewing controls to be set and more.

Shopping this holiday season is expected to be a primarily mobile experience as people get more comfortable using those devices for purchasing in addition to awareness and research.

Sick to my stomach at the news that Joe Ricketts has unceremoniously shut down the DNAInfo and Gothamist sites, removing their archives completely. That’s a lot of talented writers whose hard work has been erased, all coming just a week after those writers voted to unionize.

I was reminded of the experience of discovering random oddities and hidden treasures in a video store while reading this story about how the cover art of VHS tapes is so much more engaging and interesting than the generic thumbnails used by Netflix in displaying its viewing options.

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

Quick Takes: Content Marketing and Media News for 9/22/17

  • Hulu is committing $2.5 billion to the arms race it’s engaged in with other streaming companies who see original content as the key to success.
  • An analysis by Parse.ly shows Flipboard is second-only to Twitter in terms of sending referral traffic to publishers on mobile devices.
  • The pilot of the new supernatural comedy “Ghosted” will premiere on Twitter days before it airs on TV, part of a deal between Fox and Twitter.
  • Brands are adding social media influencers to their marketing rosters to harness and own their creativity and I will be over here never stopping hitting my head on my desk.
  • Interesting thinking here about the future of AI in the news industry, both as part of production and consumption.
  • Pinterest is finally rolling out “Sections,” allowing people to create sub-boards to more finely tune their saved and shared links.
  • No surprise that thanks in large part to the (largely) free nature of the platforms, social media is a big part of the marketing plans of small businesses.
  • Audience ad targeting on Pinterest just a lot more detailed.
  • The RIAA is out with a mid-2017 report showing just how much money it’s making from streaming services, a big change from the download model of not too long ago.
  • I’m actually quite shocked at the percentage of traffic to Nordstrom’s that’s reported to come from influencer marketing programs.
  • Medium continues to pivot, including plans to hire editors and curators as part of its next iteration, though Ev Williams still doesn’t have a clear answer to what the site/platform is.
  • Female influencers aren’t huge on Snapchat, preferring Instagram and even Pinterest.
  • Facebook is introducing a new way to target offline retail customers with ads and tie those ads to physical sales. This is super-creepy and not far off from what I predicted here.

Quick Takes: Content Marketing and Media News for 9/15

  • Your regular reminder to be careful when it comes to working with social media influencers and popular YouTubers because they could turn out to be really really racist.
  • Bezos is panicking because Amazon’s original series aren’t big enough hits, cancelling some shows and ordering new ones that fit with a new vision.
  • A new study says 18-34 year olds spend over half the time they devote to video on time-shifted viewing to TV programs.
  • Snapchat is officially rolling out its program to enlist more college publications in Discover.
  • Engagement on Instagram videos is apparently growing significantly after traditionally lagging behind the easier-to-consumer/browse photos for years.
  • Influencers continue to abandon Snapchat due to the ability to make more money elsewhere, particularly Instagram and YouTube, and Snap’s lack of hand-holding and outreach to them.
  • Mobile is the only format that’s driving any growth in web traffic, though how that’s spread around (or not) isn’t helping apps.
  • Interesting stats from Pinterest on how women use the site to browse and shop for new styles and clothes.
  • Nope, tagging news as “fake” or “disputed” on Facebook doesn’t do much of anything and could, in fact, reinforce its appeal among certain close-minded groups.
  • Facebook Instant Articles will no longer be available via Messenger, a change that comes due to apparent lack of usage and interest.
  • Hard to argue with the points made here about how RSS is a much better news-reading system than social media.
  • Google is trying to appease publishers by ending its “first click” free trial policy, pitching the change as one that will result in rising subscriptions offsetting drops in ad revenue.
  • There’s a new purity test in place at Facebook that publishers hoping to make money on the network through ad sales have to pass in order to qualify.
  • Advertisers can now run cross-channel campaigns on Instagram Stories now that it’s been integrated into its Canvas program.
  • Changes in media consumption sometimes lead to subsequent changes in job titles.
  • It’s not that surprising – at least it shouldn’t be – that Facebook doesn’t lead to substantial revenue for publishers, who nonetheless have no plans to stop prioritizing Facebook as a primary distribution node.
  • A new study shows the sweet spot for influencer marketing ROI is somewhere just below the top celebrities, who charge too much, and the micro-influencers who are all the rage. The difficulty in finding just the right person is why both Microsoft and Google are working on software to find them accurately and efficiently.
  • Pinterest is touting crossing the 200 million member mark.
  • Snapchat’s integration with Bitmoji now allows users to include animated versions of their avatars in their Snaps.
  • Make sure you read this study concluding radio is failing at keeping up with current music because it can’t adapt at the rate artists are releasing new songs or full albums.
  • Spotify is struggling with its pivot to video, finding most success by seeding videos in popular playlists as opposed to creating a destination portal for shows.

Shifting Social Engagements From Emotions to Utility

Late last week Pinterest announced it was doing away with the Like button for Pinned items and focusing on the Save button. Both have existed side-by-side for a while and have apparently been causing some confusion among users about what the difference between the two is so opted to streamline available engagement options.

What’s interesting to me is that Pinterest opted for utility over emotions. So much of the engagement on social networks is based around emotions. We Like this, we Fav that, we LOL emoji at this other thing. The internet wants us to react from our heart, not our head, to what other people or brands have published.

While that emotion-based engagement isn’t going anywhere anytime soon, there has been a shift into more pragmatic functionality on social networks and apps. Instagram doesn’t just want you to comment or like, it wants you to save other people’s photos to your own collection. Twitter will let you send Tweets directly, not just engage with them publicly.

There are other examples now and more are sure to come that, I think, show how the social web is maturing from what it once was. It’s no longer just a place to react to whatever your friends and family are posting, it’s a place to read the news. It’s a necessary tool for work for many of us. It’s a way to research new products we’re considering buying.

All of that is much more utilitarian than how social media was initially introduced. That’s how apps and networks are being used now, though. It’s not enough to see it in the moment, we want to save it for later or add it to our repository of information for future usage.

We may never shift to a social web that’s purely about utility. It will always be driven by emotion to a great extent. But there are ways that networks will shift in the near future to make their sites/apps more useful for those who need them for other reasons. Pinterest’s decision to prioritize Save over Like is just the latest indicator of that slow, long-term industry pivot.

You Got Jelly in My Pinterest

Last week Jelly, the interactive question-and-answer site, announced suddenly it had been acquired by Pinterest, the visual bookmarking network. That’s an interesting and unlikely pairing since the two services have pretty dissimilar approaches and models. And it’s not made any more clear in what has to be the oddest announcement blog post I’ve read in quite a while. Some of my favorite pull quotes are below with corresponding commentary.

“Ask jelly works as we dreamed it would.”

This statement is pretty strange as Jelly has pivoted at least twice in the last few years. It was never a big hit and failed to differentiate itself, despite launching as a visual Q&A site where people could post a picture and get crowd-sourced answers. Now it’s more of a simple structure where it simply allows people to weigh in with their expertise. So I’m just not sure what the dream vision for the site actually was because it’s much different than it was a couple years ago.

“My advice to entrepreneurs when raising another round, as Jelly was about to do, is to consider acquisition offers.”

Everyone is reading this as Jelly being unable to find interest in funding that additional round, right? It seems like the realization Jelly was unsustainable as a stand-alone business was dawning on everyone and so when Pinterest offered a lifeline the team jumped at it.

“Their mission was astonishingly similar to ours. Human powered search, a subjective search engine, and discovering things you didn’t know you need to know. These are all key to Jelly!”

This is a stretch that’s unprecedented since Fantastic Four #1 hit grocery store spinner racks in 1961.

“We’re still working out details, so there are unknowns. Will Jelly remain separate, or integrated somehow?”

This isn’t unique to Jelly/Pinterest, but it’s nevertheless shocking to me when “are we continuing as a separate company” isn’t the first thing on the agenda. If I had to guess this is simply setting the stage for Jelly to cease to exist as an independent operation and be subsumed completely into Pinterest. If Jelly is still around at the end of 2017 I’ll be shocked.

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.

Facebook Autoplay Videos, Google SEO Changes and More: Quick Takes for 8/24/16

Facebook is testing video with autoplay sound (TechCrunch, 8/23/16)

Oh come on, like you weren’t assuming this was going to happen at some point in the very near future. This is absolutely being pushed by advertisers, who are likely willing to pay just a little bit more for the sound to be on as soon as a video enters your eyeline. As I’ve said before, Facebook learned nothing from MySpace and is making all the same UX mistakes its predecessor did.

Pinterest Buys Instapaper, the Popular ‘Read Later’ App (Wired, 8/23/16)

Strip out all the hoopla about shopping habits and such and Pinterest is, at its core, a link-saving app, the next evolution of delicious and others. It has its own functionality that’s more geared to saving and sharing news stories as opposed to waffle recipes or costume designs and the acquisition of Instapaper (I use competitor Pocket myself) should help those along, opening up even more user data.

pinterest logo

Helping users easily access content on mobile (Google Webmaster Blog, 8/23/16)

That sound you heard was thousands of publishers crying out at once. Half the interstitials I come across these days are for a publication’s own email newsletter, so they’re going to have to bring their ads into compliance if they don’t want to get dinged.

Buzzfeed Divides Its News and Entertainment Divisions in Company-Wide Reorganization (Vanity Fair, 8/23/16)

Yes, the shift to video is scary to those who write. There’s a lot of speculation about what this means in terms of the company as a whole but the repercussions of the divisions won’t likely be felt for a while. More here.

Facebook suspends Domain Insights, changing rules of the road for new publishers (Digiday, 8/22/16)

Yeah, it’s hard not to come to the conclusion someone mentions in the story, which is that by cutting off access to metrics around how site content is performing on Facebook, the social network is saying publishers need to post natively there if they want those sorts of insights.

Twitter’s new button lets you accept private messages from your website (TechCrunch, 8/24/16)

Still waiting on Twitter to roll out messaging as a stand-alone app, though, which would make management of DMs that much easier.

Inside Backstage: YouTube’s plan to bring photos, polls, and text to the video service (VentureBeat, 8/24/16)

Interesting move by YouTube to try and provide some additional value for creators who want to reinforce connections with the subscriber bases they’ve spent years building up. Considering the one big thing that keeps coming up when asked why some are leaving for Snapchat is “ability to share different stuff” this makes a lot of sense. But it will only keep making sense as long as the viewer base remains loyal to the YouTube channel and doesn’t actively begin to push creators to other platforms.

Sony on Snapchat, Instagram Event Channels and More: Quick Takes for 8/17/16

Sony Pictures First To Use New Snapchat Feature (MediaPost, 8/16/16)

As is pretty common, a movie studio is the first mover on a new social network ad unit, this time Snapchat’s new video ad. Makes a lot of sense given the nature of Lights Out’s story, which is heavily focused on exploring an environment.


Facebook, Instagram Are Influencers’ Favorite Social Platforms (eMarketer, 8/16/16)

I’m actually quite surprised by two things on this list: One, that Facebook makes the list since it’s consistently seen as being problematic for “influencers” because the algorithm keeps getting in the way of reaching the audience and Two, that Snapchat *isnt’* on the list since that’s always said to be where they’re migrating to, particularly in the wake of Instagram’s recent filtered-feed update.

Snapchat’s $110M acquisition of Vurb could remedy its biggest problems (The Next Web, 8/16/16)

That problem? Discovery, which is where many users (including myself) give up because it shouldn’t be that hard to find the people or other accounts I want to follow, dammit.

Univision is buying Gawker Media for $135 million (Recode, 8/16/16)

Sure, why not. This will be good for as long as Peter Thiel decides to let it, or any other media operation, last.

Pinterest Is Making a Play for Big-Brand Dollars With Its First Video Ads (Adweek, 8/17/16)

People may be willing to watch videos on the platform, but that claim needs to have “at this time” appended to the end. There will be a shake out eventually and Pinterest, if it follows the form of other networks, will overdo it on the video ads which will lead to some drop off in their viewership. For the time being, though, here’s another outlet advertisers can repurpose their video spots on.

Introducing Event Channels on Explore (Instagram, 8/17/16)

Another example of Instagram, like other social networks do, curating content on its own with no insights into how they choose the moments they do and what sort of editorial processes are in place.

Facebook’s Olympics Feed, Instagram Stories and More: Quick Takes for 8/5/16

Facebook rolls out a personalized Olympics section in the News Feed, plus Olympic filters and frames (TechCrunch, 8/3/16)

OK, this is interesting and if you’re into the Olympics this will be cool. But it also shows the power Facebook has in shaping the news and how it can pull out any given topic at any given time. Yes, that’s just like a regular news outlet, which is what Facebook is, though without the editorial oversight.

With Hulu Stake, Time Warner Channels Will Be Added to New Livestreaming Service (Adweek, 8/3/16)

Every time Hulu succeeds at something I flash back to how, pre-launch, no one thought it was going to even make it off the ground. Time Warner getting on board is a nice addition to its offerings.

Machinima Inks Amazon SVOD Pact In Further Shift Away From YouTube (Variety, 8/3/16)

More and more producers are embracing multi-platform distribution as they realize going with a single outlet means not only limiting the audience reach but also being subject to the whims of just one company.


Snapchat Influencers Start Labeling Social Endorsements as Paid Ads (Adweek, 8/3/16)

It doesn’t shock me that Snapchat apparently didn’t have guidelines for this kind of thing. But that doesn’t mean the standard, well-known FTC guidelines shouldn’t have been utilized all along. Again, this is the responsibility of the marketers making the deal, not the platform.

Snapchat Used to Spook Advertisers. Not Anymore. (New York Times, 8/4/16)

Snapchat’s rise as an ad powerhouse is the most interesting example of how advertisers are willing to do literally anything to reach the target demographic. That’s not a value judgement as there have been lots of good executions here. The best ones, though, are those that make the ads part of and add value to the user experience, something traditional advertising has usually failed to do.

Official: Facebook launches new layout for Pages (MarketingLand, 8/4/16)

A couple good changes to how Pages are laid out. Nothing too immediate for program managers to act on right now but it will be good to 1) Note how these changes impact the design of the cover photo, which is no longer covered by a half-dozen other elements and 2) Track and see if the bigger Call To Action button leads to changes in those metrics.

Nike and Others Dive Into Instagram Stories: Why Marketers Already Like It Better Than Snapchat (AdAge, 8/4/16)

The two biggest takeaways here are that not only do brands already have significant Instagram audiences they’ve built up but that discovery and engagement are so much easier there than they are on Snapchat. Couple that with the better targeting tools and the fact that Snapchat is still a network that’s primarily one-to-one and you can see why Instagram Stories will be big.

Twitter Is Helping Brands Drive Conversations With ‘Instant Unlock Cards’ (Adweek, 8/4/16)

This is an interesting way to boost @ mentions and potentially gain followers, but the real value here will be in providing real exclusive or otherwise valuable content to the people who do so. Fail in that regard or keep reusing the same material over and over again and you’ll lose the trust and make the ads less desirable.

News Feed FYI: Further Reducing Clickbait in Feed (Facebook Newsroom, 8/4/16)

The kicker is at the end of the post, when it first says it doesn’t expect most pages to see an impact as a result of this change, just those who engage in misleading clickbait tactics. As if that isn’t 78% of Pages at this point.

Pinterest Sets Its Sights on Video (Fortune, 8/4/16)

I get what Pinterest is going for by selling this as something that will likely focus on “how to” videos, at least at first. But I’d expect that to expand quickly as companies see what works and what doesn’t. Plus, considering Pinterest’s role as a research-to-buy channel it’s easy to imagine “product showcase” quickly becomes a dominant content type.

Twitter’s latest test encourages users to Direct Message brands, not tweet at them (TechCrunch, 8/5/16)

This makes a lot of sense and hopefully helps brand managers handle customer service comments more efficiently. It’s just like what Facebook offers right now and maybe will help make DMs more widely used.

Facebook’s Testing A Main Screen That Looks A Whole Lot Like Snapchat’s (Buzzfeed, 8/5/16)

Yeah, Facebook is just stealing Snapchat features and functionality left and right. So are other networks (see Twitter’s Stickers feature) because they want to keep a hold on the users they already have, encouraging people to not abandon the networks they’ve built up by offering the latest flashy features.