Quick Takes: Content Marketing and Media News for 12/19/17

Today’s Must Read

This is a great piece on the “other” tech bubble, the one that’s building up inside a Silicon Valley ecosystem that’s still playing as fast and loose as it did in the late 90s, regardless of the changing social scene in the rest of the world. That kind of mindset, where tech founders still see themselves as disruptive geniuses, is just as dangerous as the monetary one that burst in 2001, but with the added potential to take down vast chunks of society when it pops because it has completely cut out an entire culture.

Media

A new report says the number of Netflix subscribers is now equal to the number of pay TV subscribers, something that can’t be good news for those companies but which explains why they want net neutrality dead. The only way they can compete is to eliminate competition.

Leaked information shows Mashable was in really bad shape before Ziff Davis bought it at what was seen as a steep discount recently. What’s interesting is that ZD says it will focus on SEO to help turn the site around. Weren’t we all told that social optimization was the key to success like just yesterday? Was that not true?

The latest in a series of articles and profiles over the last year or so claiming the cassette tape is making a comeback. I remain skeptical this is anything but a niche trend, but you never know.

While release dates are still largely unknown, Apple has picked up its third original series, showing its using its horde of cash to compete with Netflix and Amazon.

Social Media

There’s apparently a major problem at Periscope with creeps of indeterminate age and gender (so probably dudes of all ages) asking young girls to do sexually explicit things. That’s just the kind of behavior and unaddressed issue that’s not going to help the app win over new users much less build in any monetization model, particularly not as other services work to at least appear to be fighting that kind of problem.

A couple new features have been introduced by Facebook in the last few days. One lets you “snooze” updates from a person, Page or group for 30 days to take a break from whatever’s annoying you. The other is a new set of tools to address and prevent harassment, including facial recognition that will let you know when a photo of you have been posted even if you aren’t tagged. Putting aside how creepy that is and the myriad of potential uses for unwanted surveillance and tracking that allows for…no, I can’t get past that.

Facebook also announced the News Feed will begin downgrading “engagement bait” posts that have never been a good idea in terms of content strategy and now are officially so. That probably won’t help that the majority of what people see in their News Feed isn’t news of any kind, a finding that’s particularly disturbing given the huge number of people who identify it as their primary news source.

In a bid to woo more creators by offering them money, Musical.ly, the popular lip-synching app, has created a $50 million fund that could used for scholarships and other incentives that all come back to using the app more.

The “context cards” tested by Snapchat to add AR-like informational overlays to locations containing reviews and comments from friends have begun rolling out to users.

Twitter has begun cracking down on and deleting obvious alt-right and neo-nazi accounts, setting off the expected reactions from those groups. Hopefully this is just the first step in making the network a nicer place to converse and share news and opinions.

Good news for Snapchat that it’s still super-popular among U.S. teens, who view it as the single most important social app in their lives. The problem then is that they’re the only group that has the opinion, with literally everyone else not grasping how to use it or what it does, which is why parent company Snap has experienced issues with both user and revenue growth of late.

Content Marketing

Some interesting insights here from the Wendy’s AMA where the social media team talked about managing their sassy brand account. Of note particularly are the comments about how the voice was developed and has evolved as well as what kind of approvals are or aren’t needed.

A new study shows that corporate blogging is still an essential part of content strategy, one that produces results beyond just “engagement” assuming you put some attention and effort behind it.

Technology

All that talk around net neutrality that focused on how repealing it would foster competition runs in stark contrast to how it seems conservative groups don’t like any sort of competition when it comes to laying broadband fiber. Efforts around the country to stifle public-sector investment and infrastructure show the truth that it’s always just been about protecting certain businesses, not any initiative that will provide the best consumer option.

A bunch of new mobile apps that include not just news but chat functionality and thread moderation have been introduced by reddit, which hopes those will help it stay sticky among mobile users.

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 12/7/17

MEDIA

Marvel is expanding its cross-media efforts to podcasts, partnering with Stitcher on a scripted podcast featuring Wolverine.

Hollywood studios are hoping digital lockers such as Ultraviolet, Movies Anywhere and a few other initiatives will keep people buying physical home video releases at the same time they’re both adjusting their tactics in working with existing streaming services and launching their own.

Cool that major media organizations seem to be following the advice of right-wing dirtbags on who to fire and why. Thankfully NBC reversed that decision and rehired Seder, admitting that it acted rashly and without fully contemplating the matter.

More details on the staff purge at Cracked here, including how the site’s previous “pivot to video” last year didn’t pay off as hoped and left the company in even worse straits than before.

Shouldn’t really surprise anyone that those on Reddit don’t take the time to read the articles they vote either up or down, relying on the headlines and the handles of the people who have shared them. It’s a common problem across the web and just one of many reasons why engagement-based algorithms are problematic. Not only is it simple to “Like” something without really reading it for a variety of reasons but it’s the easiest kind of engagement to fake with a bot.

SOCIAL MEDIA

I’m hard-pressed to put into words what a bad idea Facebook’s new Messenger Kids, a “lite” version of the communications app that is meant for those aged 6 to 12, is. I understand that kids of that age are already often owning phones and are pressuring their parents to let them talk with their friends. I even get the argument that it’s better to give them a “safe” onramp to the online world when they’re young since that’s the world they’ll be living in. It doesn’t mean you should do it. While Facebook has said they’ll comply with child safety guidelines, it’s hard to imagine the company won’t still collect whatever information it can about usage, information that will transfer over to their “adult” profiles when the time is right. If you’re cool with your kid being monitored by an unaccountable non-government private company, go for it.

Instagram has introduced a couple new ways to archive and save Stories, which is exactly what you weren’t supposed to be able to do with Stories because no one wanted an archive anymore isn’t that what we were told as all these ephemeral messaging apps started showing up? It’s also testing a standalone app for its Direct messaging feature, meaning Twitter would once more be on its own in not breaking out messaging from publishing.

TECHNOLOGY

Sprout Social has acquired social analytics company Simply Measured. The buyer combines both reporting and publishing CMS capabilities, whereas the buyee has been a pure-play analytics and reporting tool, one much more fully-featured that Sprout Social’s offering.

Google is still tracking Android users’ whereabouts, even when those users have turned off location services. That news, while disturbing on its own, is reported to have been supplied by tech rival Oracle, which is using the media as a weapon in its ongoing battle with Google.

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

Sponsored Content, Twitter’s Brand and More: Quick Takes for 7/27/16

How Sponsored Content Is Becoming King in a Facebook-Dominated World (New York Times, 7/24/16)

I have no commentary here. It’s a must-read, partly because this reads like the last gasp of an industry about to willfully and with absolute intent put itself out of business. Everything here is disheartening.

See What’s Happening (Twitter Blog, 7/25/16)

All I’m saying is that if you’re a 10 year old company and you still have to explain the basic premise of the brand to people, you may have bigger issues. Just assume that the rest of this is me once again stating my belief that Twitter doesn’t need explaining, that the core audience gets it and uses it heavily and maybe trying to appeal to those who don’t because Wall Street demands new user growth rates that are inconsistent with reality is a fool’s errand. The bigger, more immediate problem it’s facing is that it missed ad revenue targets again.

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B2B Brands Have LinkedIn Followers, But Engagement On Instagram (MediaPost, 7/26/16)

The stats here on when Fortune 500 brands are and aren’t seeing engagement on Instagram makes a lot of sense. Because there are few scheduling options there, most posting of photos and videos happens during business hours, but posts that fall outside that window see higher engagement because the audience itself isn’t also at work (or school), leaving them more time to scroll through. The B2B stats, though, really interest me. LinkedIn is where the audience for these companies is, but Instagram is once again positioned as a powerhouse because of engagement rates. What, though, is the value on engagement for a B2B company? What does that get them? Those companies need leads and action, not Likes. So it makes sense for them to stay active on the networks that provide that immediate business value, not one that is all about engagement, which is relatively worthless.

Runkeeper’s Running Groups is a virtual running club for you and your buddies (VentureBeat, 7/26/16)

“…with your friends” seems to be an emerging theme when it comes to social networks and apps. Runkeeper wants you to run with your friends, Atom Tickets wants to help you organize group movie outings with your friends. And that’s just what’s been in the news lately. My guess is we’ll hear about more like this, either from new apps or existing ones looking to add new functionality, as they realize that owning the group experience is just as valuable, if not more, than owning the singular experience. Allowing groups to make plans in an owned environment brings a sense of focus and maybe even community that doing so through iMessage or GroupMe may not. This could fail due to lack of adoption by the larger group but it makes a lot of sense for this kind of consolidation to happen.

Tumblr’s Bloggers Will Soon Be Able to Cash In (Fortune, 7/26/16)

I get what the company is going for here, but I don’t see this doing much good to repair the issues that exist between Tumblr the platform and Tumblr the community. I don’t think the big problem has been that people can’t make money off ads, it’s that Tumblr has been trying to make money for itself off the user base for a few years now, certainly since the disastrous purchase by Yahoo. This will be welcome by some but just be another sign of selling out to many others.

Reddit will let brands sponsor posts from regular users (The Verge, 7/26/16)

This is the worst possible form factor for a platform that regularly mocks and shames ham-fisted brand intrusion on conversations.