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.

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 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 10/31/17

Google’s massive advertising business is getting even more massive, showing no signs of slowing down as it outpaces all rivals.

Can’t be great for all the other media companies launching branded subscription services to see Lionsgate parting ways with Comic-Con HQ, shutting that service down and transitioning to licensing the material elsewhere.

YouTube is building up its app offerings based on data showing how usage showing streaming to TVs is widespread behavior, so why not make that even easier?

Snapchat’s Sponsored Lens for “Stranger Things” season two is a whole environment people can experience, further making AR an everyday feature.

Jeez, it takes a lot of money to not only get someone to download an app in the first place but then to make a purchase through the app that’s so critical to the “freemium” model many rely on.

Facebook now says 126 million people saw ads that were part of Russia’s plans to destabilize the 2016 elections, but is downplaying the impact of that exposure. And yes, that’s exactly the opposite of the message it sends to any businesses considering buying ads on the platform.

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.

Quick Takes: Content Marketing and Media News for 10/6/17

Have to wonder what kind of sense it makes for publishers to intentionally serve up search and social-driven visitors a markedly worse user experience.

Facebook is once again being accused of over-counting the size of its audience of 18-24-year-olds.

YouTube is the latest company to make changes to its search algorithm to fight the spread of fake news and misinformation.

Quick Takes: Content Marketing and Media News for 9/29/17

  • YouTube’s Studio app now lets creators schedule videos for publication right from within the mobile app.
  • The FTC has stated the in-app features for influencers to disclose paid relationships aren’t sufficient, making it clear once more that brands are responsible for ensuring adherence to guidelines.
  • New tools from YouTube will allow for automated remixing of video assets and better targeting based on both online and offline behavior.
  • Fox is doubling-down on its own FX+ streaming service, removing its shows from other OTT providers.
  • Three-quarters of social media efforts in support of sponsorships are handled in-house, not by agencies or other parties.
  • Instagram’s touting 800 million monthly and 500 million daily users, as well as two million advertisers.
  • WordPress has connected with Google Photos to allows photos and videos shared on the latter to be used in posts on the former.
  • Facebook has committed to including “dark posts” in its report on advertising activity, a step Twitter says it doesn’t need to take because promoted content works differently there.
  • Vimeo will acquire Livestream and is launching Vimeo Live, bringing livestreaming to the service for the first time.
  • There are new ways for you to control who can or can’t comment on your Instagram posts, part of a move to increase security.
  • Rolling Stone is the latest media outlet to announce it’s “pivoting to video” as a way to save money and make itself more attractive to potential buyers.
  • Advertisers using Facebook Messenger chatbots for their campaigns will have new objectives available to them.
  • Yelp is leaning into the success it’s found with home services with a new “Request A Quote” feature for users to quickly get estimates from providers.
  • Marketers are making adjustments based on changing consumer search patterns, including the growth of mobile usage.
  • Giphy’s new Sticker Embed tool lets you essentially vandalize your favorite (or least favorite) website by adding stickers to it.
  • The New York Times will be participating in Facebook’s new push to encourage subscription, but others, including The Washington Post, are sitting it out.
  • The NYT is also experimenting with customization, showing people different versions of its homepage based on their preferences and behaviors.

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.

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.

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.