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 11/7/18

Interesting findings here that longer headlines on branded content have higher click-through rates. Perhaps because they’re more effective at quickly drawing the reader into the story?

Google is deprecating old RSS feeds from Google News next month, taking a convoluted approach that involves discarding the old but offering new feeds without setting up redirects or other accommodations for those subscribed.

Polls are the new big thing as Facebook follows Instagram with a feature allowing people to post polls using GIFs across desktop and mobile platforms.

Twitter has responded to the constant calls for better enforcement of its terms of service by clarifying the rules around what will get your account suspended or banned. Actual application of those guidelines continues to be spotty, though.

Hard to argue with the conclusion that the DNAinfo/Gothamist situation show that not only will local news not scale to the level needed for large companies to view it as successful (even if it is in the black financially) but it’s also too vital to leave in the hands of profit-motivated individuals or entities. Even national news is under fire from advertisers who are considered coverage of unpleasant issues hurts ratings and are threatening to pull their ads if it doesn’t change.

All brands will have access to Sponsored Messages on Facebook Messenger later this year. Yay?

More people are worried any regulations of tech companies resulting from the current focus on foreign manipulation of democracy through social media will go too far. I have to laugh at the comment about needing to expand our worldview beyond the self-selected media bubble it’s easy to create given our president almost daily reacts to one cable almost exclusively.

It’s kind of hard to fathom the implications of a potential Disney acquisition of 21st Century Fox. Putting aside the control over IP, the consolidation of control over a bigger percentage of media production and distribution – specifically news dissemination – is frightening, especially given the recent example noted above.

Even beyond what it produces itself, such a combined entity has potential repercussions for the press. Disney reportedly shut out the Los Angeles Times from press screenings as punishment for a negative report on its theme park business, a dangerous stifling of the free press. In response four critics associations announced Disney films would not be eligible for their annual awards as long as the policy is in place, seemingly creating enough public pressure that just today Disney relented and lifted the ban.

Twitter has rolled out 280-character updates to its entire user base, meaning…well…nothing, really.

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

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.

The One Thing Tech Companies Could Do To Fight News Manipulation

Facebook, Twitter, Google and other tech companies have been, and will continue to be, testifying before members of Congress about what the hell just happened. Specifically, lawmakers want to know how those platforms were used by foreign agents to disseminate false information both organically and through paid ads in the lead up to last year’s elections.

Given how much of the electorate gets their news through these platforms, the stakes are fairly high. Both Twitter and Facebook have continued to revise the number of people exposed to these ads and messages up as time goes on. At this point over half of all Americans saw some sort of propaganda designed to destabilize our democracy by inflaming racial, religious and other prejudices.

In response to all this, the tech companies in question have reverted to their favorite line of defense: “We’re just a dumb platform.” They claim they can only do so much because the users are responsible for the experience of what they see. They also downplay the efficacy of whatever ads were displayed, something they do have control over, seemingly unaware this position is exactly opposite to the “you need to buy ads on our network because they work” pitch made to every business in the country.

Ironically, the quagmire Facebook finds itself in hasn’t hurt advertising revenue as companies continue buying. It did, though, attempt to stave off regulation by claiming that really fighting the spread of fake news and weeding out manipulative advertising would cost so much it would hurt future profits. Essentially, it’s stating that if lawmakers really love capitalism they’ll back off. It’s the same argument the banks have made for years.

Those warnings may be true, though you could argue acting in the public good is more important to America than profit levels.

Instead of throwing money at attempting to solve the problem, there seems to be one simple solution that might hinder the impact of outside influence before it begins.

Verification

What if those additional hires (more likely low-paid contractors who don’t enjoy all the perks of full-time employees) were tasked with reviewing the authenticity of any new Page for someone claiming to be a news organization or advocacy group?

Based on the examples exposed in recent months, it seems most of these groups don’t stand up to the most cursory research, something that’s surely within the capabilities of companies like Facebook, Google and others. They have more tools than the average person and would be able to see that a group claiming to represent Native Americans just launched their website three months ago and why is it registered in Myanmar?

The companies in question would likely argue that such research and verification isn’t their responsibility. But it is. Landlords have to verify the party wishing to rent an apartment is who they say they are, and the repercussions there don’t affect the lives of all Americans in the way those using rented online land do.

Put those resources up front and stop the problem from becoming a problem. If anything comes out of the scrutiny being turned on the tech companies responsible for what we do and don’t see, I hope it’s that.

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

Quick Takes: Content Marketing and Media News for 10/27/17

The Content Marketing Institute is out with a new study that takes a look at the state of the industry. Basically people are feeling things are working better than they have in the past and it’s all going quite nicely, thank you very much.

Apple is taking a conservative, at least in terms of subject matter, approach to producing original content, focusing on all-ages material as opposed to the edgy “peak TV” material that other distributors have created.

Patreon has released a set of tools and apps that integrate with other platforms to make fundraising and ongoing support from fans even easier.

30,000 businesses have reportedly begun using Workplace, the inter-office messaging tool from Facebook that’s meant to go up against Slack and other offerings.

Not that shocking to find that premium placement in the “featured” section of Apple’s App Store leads to increased attention and installations.

GoFundMe has launched a content creation studio to produce stories based on the heartwarming and inspirational campaigns run on the site. Similarly, GroupOn has launched a campaign using retailer success stories to attract more interest.

Lots of interesting stuff in Twitter’s latest quarterly report, including revised user numbers based on an error in previous calculations and the expectation it will be turning a profit later this year.

Spotify has decided original video productions just aren’t working and has canceled them en masse while it reimagines and reinvents the whole concept.

Speaking of which, Buzzfeed management appears to have been so mad it got scooped on the Harvey Weinstein news it’s fired a handful of entertainment editors as it rejiggers processes.

Both Instagram and Facebook have introduced Halloween-themed face filters and other toys.

Medium opened up its wallet of investment money to help attract some big name publishers to its newly-open Publisher program, putting select stories behind a paywall.

The latest social app to jump on the “and friends” broadcast trend is Anchor, which now lets you easily add people to episodes you’re recording.

Facebook joins Twitter in announcing increased transparency into advertising buys, particularly those involving politics. The smell of pending federal regulation must be getting strong in Silicon Valley.

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 10 /24/17

Facebook has downplayed their significance, but the fact remains it’s been testing a version of the News Feed that separates posts from publishers into a whole different section from updates from friends and family, with publishers able to buy their way into that “main” feed.

Spotify is letting everyone know they have the data showing you’re listening to podcasts at work.

The latest media company to help brands create catchy, hopefully engaging video ads is Buzzfeed, which is introducing BuzzCuts to take longer TV spots and easily make them into shorter, social-friendly videos.

Great, I can’t possibly imagine what kind of damage no longer requiring media companies maintain a presence in the cities they want to do business in will lead to. Except that I totally can.

You can now broadcast live with a friend on Instagram.

If you’re a publisher you’ll want to check out Facebook’s new guidelines repository to get a good idea of what won’t be applicable in six months.

Twitter is hoping sunlight will help stave off regulators as it opens an “Advertising Transparency Center” where anyone can search for who’s behind all current ad campaigns.

Quick Takes: Content Marketing and Media News for 10/20/17

Cool new functionality from Feedly, which lets you turn any Team Board, a collection of saved items you want everyone on your team to see, into an email newsletter.

Publishers can now add a paywall to Facebook Instant Articles, but only on Android because Facebook and Apple couldn’t agree on terms. I’m super-interested in seeing what results from this as my guess is the casual reader isn’t interested in taking additional steps.

Twitter has a new team of brand strategists under the name “#Fuel” to help advertisers quickly create the 6-second video ads that are currently all the rage.

A new study shows mobile users are fans of video ads that offer some sort of reward or incentive for watching them. Ugh, these entitled millennials.

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

Snap and NBCUniversal have partnered to create more original programming for the messaging platform, with the prolific Duplass Brothers helping to do so.

I hope I’m not the only one who had never heard of the mobile app tbh, which is focused around positivity, before, because it just got acquired by Facebook, which apparently is going to allow it to operate on its own.

Feature creep combined with lack of access to the necessary infrastructure are going to limit the growth of skinny bundles, according to a new forecast.

WhatsApp is the latest messaging/social app to add live location-sharing, which is good news to all those frustrated stalkers out there. Didn’t we have this conversation when Snapchat did this?

The new Video Website Card ad format from Twitter is meant to combine videos with direct action ads, allowing advertisers to capture leads more easily.

Screen-sharing is now a native feature in Facebook Live.

Even Facebook executives realize Twitter is a better platform for conversations and crisis management.

Quick Takes: Content Marketing and Media News for 10/13/17

Turns out Twitter can’t just delete single Tweets that violate its TOS, it can only suspend accounts. That doesn’t make how it seems to only apply those rules to high-profile accounts and not the army of vile, racist, sexist animals that bully women and people of color off the platform, but…no, actually that’s it.

Facebook isn’t just having a profound impact on democracy, it’s affecting the whole of society, from voting to commerce to social activism to every other facet of life. And it’s doing so unchecked by any regulation, moral compass or commitment to the public good.

The biggest change public education needs to make to adapt to a world where facts are instantly retrievable is to teach media literacy, otherwise those seeking to subvert society will only grow more powerful.

While the addition of social media adds a twist, the idea of brands enlisting student street teams to promote products on college campuses isn’t exactly new.

I like the accountability that’s baked into The New York Times’ updated social media policies for staffs but there are scores of other issues I’ll weigh in on at some point.