Pew: How People Use One or More Social Networks For News

Pew last week released the results of a new study on which social media sites Americans were getting their news from. Those numbers are not only insightful in and of themselves but also in regards to the ongoing conversation about what responsibility the companies operating those sites have to their role as news sources.

Facebook Dominates

Not only is Facebook the most widely-used social network, but half of the people who get their news on that site do so exclusively, meaning they don’t turn to any other social media site for additional information or context.

That stat needs to be used the next time Facebook is called to account for the influence it wields and who may be using it as a disinformation platform. That includes not only foreign but domestic actors. If 45% of U.S. adults use Facebook for news and half do so exclusively, that means it is the only source of news for roughly 23% of U.S. adults. The fact that the company does not seem to take that role seriously is breathtaking.

Messaging App Users Stay In That Lane

In general, the number of people who get news from messaging apps like Snapchat and WhatsApp are small – 5 and 2% respectively – but if they do they tend to stay in that category. So WhatsApp users also turn to Snapchat for news, as well as Instagram.

Twitter and YouTube Numbers Are Surprising

It was surprising to see that only 11% of respondents said they turn to Twitter for news, especially given its role in the conversation around breaking news events. That came into stark relief a few years ago when Twitter was filled with updates of the protests and other events in Ferguson, MO while Facebook dominated by the Ice Bucket Challenge. That contrast lead some to refer to Facebook’s as the “Ice Bucket Feed.”

Just as unexpected is the appearance of YouTube as the second most used site for news, with 18% of people turning there, 21% exclusively. Just last year there was a report that YouTube had fallen out of favor with media companies who were being lured by pitches from Facebook, Snapchat and others that focused on how they reach vital demographics and encourage viral sharing. YouTube apparently wants to lean into this role as just a few months ago it introduced a “Breaking News” section on the desktop and mobile app front pages.

[pilatevoice] What Is News? [/pilatevoice]

What’s left unaddressed in the Pew report is what the definition of “news” being used is. While all these platforms certainly deal in what might be called “hard” news, they also feature more than a little “softer” news, as well as content that can only be termed news through a significant stretching of definitions. Are people using these sites to stay in tune with politics and government?

A 2013 Pew study found that “Entertainment” accounted for 73% of the news people saw on Facebook while “National government and politics” was just 55% and “International” just 39%. So when people are going to YouTube or anywhere else for news, what does that mean? It can’t be assumed it’s the kind of news that would make the lead on a local TV broadcast or the front page of The New York Times.

Not only that, but the study doesn’t address what sources are providing that news. As Facebook seeks to increasingly marginalize the role of the traditional news publisher – at least those who don’t either pay for promoted posts or adopt whichever native format is preferred that week – it can’t be assumed that the news people are seeing is going through any sort of vetting or editorial review to determine veracity.

That’s exactly what the hearings Facebook, Twitter and Google took part in last week in Washington, D.C. were all about. If you’re getting your news not from a source that, whatever its editorial bias might be at least ascribes to traditional journalistic principles but from YourRightDaily or whatever that is designed to inflame passions through the spread of “emotional” content that plays into prejudices, the “facts” you’re getting are very different.

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

Quick Takes: Content Marketing News for 9/1/17

  • Facebook has confirmed it won’t take a cut of the subscriptions it’s going to help publishers sell, though I feel like “yet” needs to be added to each one of these promises.
  • As my friend Jeremy Pepper pointed out, Snapchat’s sudden overtures to influencers seems driven by a tanking stock price and slowing user growth, both of which the company is trying to shore up.
  • Eventually we’re going to hit a point where so much of what’s posted on Facebook are based on memory prompts that nothing new will ever be shared, just an endless cycle of revisiting posts made between 2007 and 2016.
  • There are all sorts of options people can choose from but marketers still prefer email as a message delivery platform and people in general feel likewise, though they do have some suggestions for improvements.
  • Nice move by Giphy adding GIF view counts for its official Artist and Partner channels, giving managers of those programs some numbers to be used to prove program effectiveness.
  • Truly the end days are upon us as Buzzfeed finally casts aside its moral superiority and accepts banner ads because it wants to make more money.
  • WhatsApp is the latest to offer verified account badges to select business accounts, which comes with special features and functionality.
  • A bunch of new features have been added to Tumblr’s mobile app that increase the style people can apply to posts and weblogs.
  • A new logo and layout are just two of the changes YouTube has made to freshen up the look and functionality of the site.
  • Instagram has introduced new tools for branded content that ease disclosure by the creators and give sponsoring brands more insights in the performance of those posts.
  • Highly recommend this piece on how YouTube evolved from being simply a utility for hosting videos into a feed-centric discovery platform.
  • Founder Ev Williams talks about Medium’s recent business model shifts and how he sees the site in terms of supporting quality writing.
  • Anchor has introduced even more editing features and explains how the team worked to create the best possible product.
  • You can new view Instagram Stories on the web.
  • After some push back from users after a recent redesign, Flipboard is reinstating some key content navigation functionality
  • Facebook is rolling out its new Watch video hub to all U.S. users and of course there’s already a desire by publishers to sell advertisers on sponsored videos.
  • To combat and head-off the spread of fake or misleading news on the platform, Snapchat has a team of journalists that review stories it curates for accuracy.

Snapchat, Instagram, Facebook, Flipboard and Tumblr Make Big Updates

Everyone’s in the same race for the precious time that people spend on their smartphones, realizing that many of the apps and social networks are more or less mature in terms of growth and so have to compete on feature set. To that end, the last couple days have seen a flurry of activity from a number of the biggest social companies as they role out new tools and features to keep their audiences interested and create new advertising revenue opportunities.

Snapchat

What they’ve introduced is basically augmented reality, taking their popular “stickers” and making it more interactive. Called “World Lenses,” this new tool lets you drop animated digital animations and other items onto the world around you and then share that with your Snap buddies. This is pretty basic (if you can use that term with technology like this) but not only is it a new feature that extends an already popular concept into new areas, but it’s easy to see the sponsorship/advertising potential as companies vie to place their digital items into people’s Snaps.

Tumblr

The blog/social platform rolled out Cabana, a new stand-alone social video app. The gist is that you can watch videos and video chat with up to five of your friends. As Katie Notopoulos at Buzzfeed points out, this is the first stand-alone app from the Tumblr team and that while there’s no monetization play at the moment that’s not far down the road. Tumblr’s David Karp says it taps into the core Tumblr experience, which is to share key moments with your friends. That might be a bit of wishful thinking. It will be interesting to see how this works for content marketers. If people are watching a professionally produced video (e.g. a movie trailer, something from a convention etc) will there be any metrics available around that? There’s potential here for brands with big Tumblr followings to invite select fans in to a Cabana viewing/chat to give them a first look at something new and exclusive. It’s also easy to see being asked to pay for the ability to invite more people into a single chat session.

Facebook

The company made a number of big announcements yesterday, including:

  • A “social VR” product called Spaces that seems to add a VR element to the same concept Second Life and Nintendo’s Miiverse have previously executed. The hardware issue remains a substantive one, but this shows the company is serious about this space, so to speak.
  • Lots of new Messenger updates, including better discovery involving QR codes and more that will take people directly to the bot they’re looking for. We can – and should – debate whether the bot experience is a good one for the consumer or not (it’s not) and how the bot experience can scale (it can’t), but Facebook clearly sees this as important, likely for revenue growth reasons.
  • It’s expanding Workplace, it’s professionally-minded chat tool that’s meant to compete with Slack and other existing tools. There are a lot of enterprise-level tools that are still missing that other services have, but it will be hard to compete against a free option that uses an infrastructure and setup that most of your workforce is already familiar with.

Instagram

The new private collections introduced the other day allow people to save posts from anyone into a collection they’ve created. That seems like a play against Snapchat stories that anyone can contribute to but it’s a cool way to bring together themed collections around a night out or other event. It could also be used by brand publishers as an easy way to curate fan posts from a convention or other event and then share it themselves.

Flipboard

The bookmarking site is doubling-down on video with new video collections that are added to “Smart Magazines.” This isn’t a huge update but it shows the company is increasingly focused not just on helping people to build their own magazines and collections but also to being a destination to find news and other updates, particularly from the big publishers who are sharing stories there.

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.

twitter-bird-logo-beach-ss-1920-800x450

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.

Twitter, Vine, Instagram and Tumblr Made Yesterday A Big Video Day

It’s hard to pick just one of the big pieces of news around social – particularly live – video that seems like the biggest change.

twitter app iconFirst there was Twitter, which expanded the length of videos anyone can shoot and share to 140 (natch) seconds. That’s almost a 3x increase from the previous 30 seconds everyone has had access to, though certain brand partners and advertisers can upload and share videos up to a few minutes in length.

VineVine also has lifted the six-second limit and bumped it up up to 140 seconds. You *can* still do just six-second videos but now those six-seconds can act as teasers for longer videos. They’re positioned in the post as being like trailers for a longer movie, but my sense is they’re more like an excerpt for a longer story you’re being asked to read. Some partners will have access to videos of up to 10 minutes and Vine is finally doing something creators have long asked for, opening up monetization options for those loyal creators.

square-tumblr-512Next up, Tumblr, after a few days of teasing things, announced live video is coming to the social blog platform. It’s not native live video like on Facebook, Snapchat or Twitter but works with YouTube, YouNow and other video partners to make it happen. Live videos get posted to your blog and show up in people’s dashboards just like any other post and is archived just like any other post. There don’t seem to be any time limits on live videos here.

instagram_logoFinally, it wasn’t a product announcement but Instagram, while touting hitting 500 million users, called out the fact that it expanded video length from 15 to 60 seconds as one of the reasons it’s continuing to see such strong user growth. And it says it’s become a breeding ground for a whole new group of up-and-coming talent that’s attracting brand sponsor and other attention, a clear shot at Vine.

So what does all this mean? It means that everyone wants to be competing against Facebook Live, which itself is competing against Snapchat. Video is *it* when it comes to social networks. It’s the field everyone wants to be playing in.

But what we’re losing is any sense of permanence. All of these videos are here and then they’re gone, thrown down the memory hole either of disposability – Snapchat – or of lousy search features on Facebook and elsewhere. All of these are gone…like teardrops in the rain.

Despite all that, there are now even more options for content marketers to take advantage of in terms of social video, either through their own efforts, “influencer” programs or other executions. This shouldn’t be the first time anyone is thinking about video tactics – you should have had that conversation in 2008 and been building on it and adapting it since then – but it does add more considerations and options to the toolbox.

Studios Abandon Owned Sites In Favor of Tumblr

In content marketing circles there is a concept known as “hub and spoke” that I happen to be a big adherent of . The idea is that content originates on the “hub,” which is usually an on-domain website or corporate blog and then radiates out to the spokes, which are the managed networks like Facebook, Twitter and so on. Because content on social networks can be ephemeral – an issue only exacerbated by the rise of apps like Snapchat and so on – and is hard to archive and therefore resurface, it’s important that you have a single repository of what you publish. That way you can find things and resurface them in new blog posts, can share them again on Twitter in light of some related breaking news and so on. And most importantly, you’re not subject to either the terms and conditions of a social network or the whims of investors, who can influence not only the presentation of your content but also its very availability.

Movie studios have never been big fans of this strategy, mostly still producing websites that are more or less static and not using social networks to drive traffic back to those sites unless it’s to get people to buy tickets. And now it seems they’re moving even further away not just from the tactical benefits of this strategy but also from the central idea of “own your stuff” that’s behind it.

That’s because as I’ve seen more and more, studios are increasingly building the official websites for movies on Tumblr. Just in the last two or three weeks I’ve seen the official sites for Sleeping With Other People and Hotel Transylvania 2 that are built on the popular blog network. Yes, they’re nice sites, but they’re still Tumblr blogs, albeit heavily customized ones.

tumblr_logotype_white_blue_512

What the studios seem to be going for is ease of media hosting and the network benefits that are built in to Tumblr. The content on these sites is largely geared toward what works well there, including lots of GIFs and other media, and all of these assets are easily shared by visitors on their own Tumblr blogs or on their Twitter or other social networks profiles. The studio’s design team does a little bit of CSS work and then it’s off to the races with content that’s just pining to go viral.

For any other company in any other industry I’d be throwing red flags left and right if someone I worked with came and suggested this as a strategy. Using Tumblr as your primary web presence means that not only are you sacrificing long-term content viability – who knows when Tumblr will disappear or change things around to break that precious CSS – but it all lives on Tumblr’s servers, not your own. That makes you subject to their ToS and means you can’t manage or troubleshoot downtime, you just have to wait like everyone else when it goes down or when problems emerge.

This is where Hollywood once again differentiates itself from other industries, though. While I’m still not a huge fan of this tactic, studios have never been as concerned about evergreen or long-lived content as companies operating in, for instance, the security software industry. It’s not as if studios are constantly resurfacing old material years later in the context of breaking news. They may occasionally share an old GIF on Twitter as part of #TBT, but that’s almost exclusively media that was native to social networks to begin with.

That’s not to say that there’s no value in studios embracing what I would call a traditional hub-and-spoke strategy, which is built around an on-domain blog with content distributed outward. There is. A lot of value, I believe. Platforms like WordPress would allow for them to build a framework that would allow for official sites for new and upcoming movies that are much more sustainable than Tumblr allows for.

I get that studios often aren’t thinking long-term about marketing content. They want to drive audiences to the theater opening weekend and then it’s on to the next effort. But with a few tweaks – some large, some small – they could put a much more sustainable framework in place that would allow them to see value from those marketing assets that are posted well beyond a single film’s release window.

Tumblr’s Clothing Line Is A Smart Brand Extension

In the New York Times story about the new line of clothing launched by Tumblr, company spokesperson Valentine Uhovki says, ““We wanted every look to feel like a Tumblr post.” It’s hard to argue the results achieved that goal, though how much that does or doesn’t work for you will obviously vary. But their approach – to get designs from Tumblr users, show off models from the Tumblr community and use a photographer who was also active on the platform certainly shows a commitment to the people who use it.

tumblr clothing

The shirts may be a bit much for you – they certainly are for me, someone who prefers as many plain, solid color t-shirts as he can find – but for others these are going to be right up their alley. They’re bright, vivid and are certainly unique. Just like a Tumblr dashboard.

As I wrote on Voce Nation, finding offline brand experiences is an important tactic in the marketing mix. In fact you could argue that with so much happening online, a real world experience creates even more of an impact, not just because it pulls people out of their apps and such but because these experiences are going to wind up being shared *through* those same apps. So it’s win-win.

The great thing is that this is an area where Tumblr is embracing what makes it unique among publishing platforms and social networks. It’s hard to imagine what a Twitter or Facebook-inspired line of clothing would look like. (out of context Mark Twain quotes for the former, out of context Mark Twain quotes overlayed on an image of Martin Luther King Jr. for the latter, is my guess) Because Tumblr is such a visual, interactive place it makes for a natural extension into clothing that’s not branded but is representative of the culture and feel of the network.

Tumblr bests

Mary Gaulke on the PNConnect team has a great post that looks at some great Tumblr blogs and how they serve the brands who publish them. The post comes from the PNConnect Trends Report, a monthly overview of what’s hot and interesting in the social publishing world. If you’re interested receiving that let me know.

Tumblr is a force to be reckoned with on the social Web, with traffic to the site increasing by 74% from 2012 to 2013. Still, for many brands it’s an open question whether – and how – to leverage the platform. Among the many brands already succeeding on Tumblr, we’ve delineated three broad types of blogs to help provide some insight into what’s working particularly well. (Although, of course, many brands blend elements of the different types.) Here’s an introduction to each of those types, with some illustrative examples of how different brands are making the format work for them.

via Three Species of Tumblr Brand Blogs: A Field Guide « PNConnect | Digital Marketing Services from Porter Novelli.

Tumblr powers up @ mentions

Nice new feature from Tumblr, largely because this now makes it more clear when someone is talking about you. Not only good for the individual ego but also for brand publishers looking to track where and when the conversations about them are happening.

For at least four months, users have been able to use the @-sign to autocomplete friends’ Tumblr usernames and automatically link to their blogs. The new wrinkle in the feature is that now when you’re mentioned, Tumblr notifies you on your Activity page.

via Tumblr Belatedly Adds @Mention Alerts, Long After Other Social Sites – ReadWrite.

Digital/Social’s role in marketing and forecasting

If I were still writing MMM on a regular basis I could have a field day with this story about social media’s impact and usefulness in not only movie marketing but box office prognostication.

Twitter has claimed a decent impact on water cooler conversations, Buzzfeed has reinvented (or at least smartly repackaged) native advertising and Tumblr has used the momentum after its acquisition by Yahoo to position itself as the new echo chamber for fan engagement. Budgets have been steadily shifting towards digital media, and digital savvy has become the new must-have. Overall levels of relevance, mass reach, sophistication and smart spending have increased tremendously in 2013.

via Digital Data on December Movie Releases: 47 Ronin, Anchorman 2, More | Variety.