Social Media

Instagram Blows Away Twitter on Brand Engagement

19 December 2014

From SocialBakers:

Twitter is great for news and real-time buzz. But Instagram is now bigger, and according to our newest data, it’s the definitive place to be for brands who want to engage with their communities.

. . . .

Instagram is making waves – it now has more than 300 million users, 70% of whom are from outside the United States, and best-performing brands garner nearly 50× more engagement with organic content. This engagement is defined as the sum of all retweets, replies, and favorites on Twitter.

Instagram gives brands an outlet for creative storytelling and engagement with tight communities of people who share a passion for the the brands’ values. From the stunning photography of National Geographic and Magnum Photos, to the latest fashion from Zara and H&M – ‘Grammers love their brands.

Link to the rest at SocialBakers

How Facebook Changes for 2015 Could Affect Authors

12 December 2014

From author Edie Melson via The Write Conversation:

Facebook is making some fairly major changes in 2015.

. . . .

Truthfully, this time the changes aren’t just an inconvenience. These changes are going to cost money—serious money. Those in the know have been warning that Facebook was going to have to make some changes and monetize the site to keep shareholders satisfied.

. . . .

They began the process with business pages. They rolled out the edgerank algorithm and limited the number of followers who see any given post.

Then, at almost the same time, they began offering the option of paying to boost a post. This allowed significantly more followers to see the specific post.

In 2015, they are about to charge businesses a monthly fee to advertise on Facebook through business pages.

. . . .

Facebook is the one who decides what is classified as advertising and what isn’t. They will have very specific guidelines for what constitutes advertising.

Here’s what it includes for writers and authors:

  • Updates about a new book release.
  • Updates about a book launch and/or event.
  • Updates about Rafflecopter and other giveaways.

. . . .

Here’s what’s not—for the moment—being considered advertising:

  • Updates about blogging articles that interest you and your connections.
  • Updates that pose questions.
  • Updates that share quotes.
  • Updates that share cartoons and memes.
  • Updates that ask for opinions. (This one may be cloudy, especially if the opinion solicited is in regard to a book cover. I just don’t know.)

I don’t know which side (advertising or just social) sharing updates about someone else’s book will fall. I suspect that at this point, they don’t either.

. . . .

Google is looking at instituting the same restructuring. They are farther back, but the changes are in the works, so get ready.

Link to the rest at The Write Conversation and thanks to Mike for the tip.

Here’s a link to Edie Melson’s books

Spam, self-promotion, and the thin, jellyfish-covered line between.

9 December 2014

From author Seanan McGuire:

If you are a creative professional, it is a sad reality that self-promotion is a part of your job. Maybe that wasn’t always true; maybe there was a time when you could emerge from your creative chambers, hand your latest piece of deathless art to your agent, and then retreat back into your office fastness to keep creating. But alas, we do not live in that possibly mythic world, and if you work in the arts, at all, you need to be willing to sell yourself to whatever degree, and in whatever manner, you are comfortable.

Maybe it’s social media updates. Maybe it’s occasional blog posts. Maybe it’s setting up a mailing list. There are a lot of ways to do self-promotion, and since I consider sincerity to be the most important thing of all, there’s really no wrong way. As long as you’re comfortable and happy and not drowning in your update links, you’re probably okay.

But here’s the thing. There is a line between “self-promotion” and “spam,” and while that line is usually pretty visible, it’s also easy to cross, even without intending to. I schedule Current Projects posts; make Inchworm Girl posts once a week at max; and try to do sales announcements and convention announcements when it will have the greatest impact. It is thus possible—not likely, but possible—that all three of these things could happen on the same day. That would seem a little spammy, and take away from all three. It would also still be confined to my space, which you can read at your leisure, if you read it at all.

. . . .

The trouble, for me, comes when self-promotion begins going into other peoples’ spaces without being invited. An example:

Last week I tweeted about how my sister is a nervous flier. Within twenty minutes I had received an unsolicited tweet from a retired commercial pilot who does not normally follow me, with a link to his book on calming fears of flying. Now, this may seem like he’s just being helpful, but again, he does not follow me, and I did not ask for advice. This is a stranger who clearly has some standard searches coming across my comment and deciding that he can use it to profit.

I told him that what he was doing was spamming, and he asked why I was making such a fuss. The reason is simple: because he came into my space, without my asking him to, and tried to sell me something I had not asked for. He was spamming.

Link to the rest at Seanan McGuire and thanks to Jessica for the tip.

Here’s a link to Seanan McGuire’s books

The Trolls Among Us

1 December 2014

From Slate:

If you are reading this article on the Internet, stop afterward and think about it. Then scroll to the bottom and read the comments. Then recheck your views.

Chances are your thinking will have changed, especially if you have read a series of insulting, negative, or mocking remarks—as so often you will. Once upon a time, it seemed as if the Internet would be a place of civilized and open debate; now, unedited forums often deteriorate into insult exchanges. Like it or not, this matters: Multiple experiments have shown that perceptions of an article, its writer, or its subject can be profoundly shaped by anonymous online commentary, especially if it is harsh.

. . . .

Some news organizations have responded by heavily curating comments. One Twitter campaigner, @AvoidComments, periodically reminds readers to ignore anonymous posters: “You wouldn’t listen to someone named Bonerman26 in real life. Don’t read the comments.” But none of that can prevent waves of insulting commentary from periodically washing over other parts of the Internet, infiltrating Facebook or overwhelming Twitter.

If all of this commentary were spontaneous, then this would simply be an interesting psychological phenomenon. But it is not. A friend who worked for a public relations company in Europe tells of companies that hire people to post, anonymously, positive words on behalf of their clients and negative words about rivals. Political parties of various kinds, in various countries, are rumored to do the same.

. . . .

For democracies, this is a serious challenge. Online commentary subtly shapes what voters think and feel, even if it just raises the level of irritation, or gives readers the impression that certain views are “controversial,” or makes them wonder what the “mainstream” version of events is concealing. For the most part, the Russian trolls aren’t supplying classic propaganda, designed to trumpet the glories of Soviet agriculture. Instead, as journalists Peter Pomerantsev and Michael Weiss have written in a paper analyzing the new tactics of disinformation, their purpose is rather “to sow confusion via conspiracy theories and proliferate falsehoods.” In a world where traditional journalism is weak and information is plentiful, that isn’t very difficult to do.

But no Western government wants to “censor” the Internet, either, and objections will always be raised if government money is spent even studying this phenomenon. Perhaps, as Pomerantsev and Weiss have also argued, we therefore need civic organizations or charities that can identify deliberately false messages and bring them to public attention. Perhaps schools, as they once taught students about newspapers, now need to teach a new sort of etiquette: how to recognize an Internet troll, how to distinguish truth from state-sponsored fiction.

Link to the rest at Slate and thanks to Barb for the tip.

New Facebook Rules Will Sting Entrepreneurs

30 November 2014

From The Wall Street Journal:

Chrisy Bossie built a $100,000-a-year gemstone e-commerce business by sharing information about her products on her company’s Facebook page several times a week.

“Steals in the Shop! I have a TON of new 36-inch-long necklaces, most priced at $15, available in amethyst, lapis, watermelon tourmaline, turquoise…. Shop them all here,” she wrote in a recent marketing post on a Facebook page for Earthegy, the business she runs from her home in rural Kent Store, Va. She also included photos and links to the products, hoping the business’s 70,000 Facebook fans would share the posts with their own Facebook friends.

But small-business owners like Ms. Bossie will soon get less benefit from the unpaid marketing pitches they post on Facebook. That’s because, as of mid-January, the social network will intensify its efforts to filter out unpaid promotional material in user news feeds that businesses have posted as status updates.

The change will make it more difficult for entrepreneurs like Ms. Bossie, the founder of four-year-old Earthegy, to reach fans of their Facebook pages with marketing posts that aren’t paid advertising.

Businesses that post free marketing pitches or reuse content from existing ads will suffer “a significant decrease in distribution,” Facebook warned in a post earlier this month announcing the coming change.

The upshot for Ms. Bossie is that “if I do not pay to promote the post or boost it, it’s hardly reaching anyone,” she says. Now, more than half her sales come via her Facebook posts, she estimates.

. . . .

Dan Levy, Facebook’s vice president of small business, says that Facebook’s paid-advertising options have become more effective recently and that companies should view Facebook as a tool to “help them grow their businesses, not a niche social solution to getting more reach or to make a post go viral.”

He says he has “a lot of empathy” for business owners who “are feeling this evolution” in the reduction of what he describes as organic reach. But, he says, organic reach is only one of several reasons companies benefit from having a presence on Facebook. Last month, there were more than one billion visits to Facebook pages directly. “Having a presence where you can be discovered still has a ton of value,” he says. “We don’t want them to spend any dollar with us unless it’s doing something spectacular to help them grow their business.”

Facebook’s push toward paid advertising is likely to aggravate an “already tense relationship between small businesses and social platforms over audience ownership,” says Steven Jacobs of Street Fight, a Colorado-based media-and-events firm covering local digital marketing. Businesses used to own their consumer relationships through email or other in-house marketing channels, or to buy them from newspapers, television and other traditional media outlets through ads. “But Yelp and now Facebook are trying to peddle a third model, he says: “renting—in which a business can build a community but never own an audience on a platform.”

. . . .

Ms. Bossie says that she has used both “unpaid” and “paid” Facebook posts to spread the word about her business and that the unpaid promotional posts are becoming less and less effective at driving sales as other content crowds them out. She expects to pay $1,500 a month next year on Facebook advertising, up from $1,200 this year, and she plans to allocate about three-quarters of her spending to promoted posts.

Link to the rest at The Wall Street Journal (Link may expire)

Small Empires: can Wattpad’s DIY writing empire survive an invasion by Amazon?

19 November 2014

From The Verge:

When venture capitalists are considering whether or not to invest in a startup, there’s a stock question many will ask the founder: What would you do if Google decided to enter your business? You could swap the name of any tech titan — Apple, Facebook, Microsoft, Amazon — into that query. The bigger picture is figuring out whether the thing you’re building is a unique and defensible business or just a cool feature these companies haven’t bothered to focus on yet.

This hypothetical challenge has just become a reality for Wattpad, a Toronto startup that has built a community of writers and readers creating millions of new stories each month. Amazon jumped into the game last month with the debut of WriteOn, a service offering the same mix of author tools and a readership composed of the huge audience already using Amazon for ebooks.

Link to the rest at The Verge and thanks to Jan for the tip.

Facebook to Clean Up News Feeds

17 November 2014

From The Wall Street Journal:

Facebook Inc. users can expect fewer marketing pitches in their news feed next year.

The social network said Friday it is changing the formula that controls the news feed to reduce advertising-like promotional material from companies.

The changes will take effect in early January. The new formula won’t reduce the number of paid advertisements users see.

. . . .

Facebook has long offered corporations with Facebook pages an opportunity to create the equivalent of free ads, through promotional posts that would be seen by the company’s Facebook fans.

For the past several years, some companies have complained that fewer fans are seeing these posts. Until now, Facebook has said it favors “high-quality” content in the news feed, but denied specifically altering the news-feed algorithm to downplay promotional posts. Facebook also said users’ news feeds have become more crowded as more users create more posts.

Friday’s announcement means companies will get even less mileage from unpaid Facebook posts. Organizations that post promotional messages “should expect their organic distribution to fall significantly over time,” Facebook said in a statement.

Facebook is telling companies, “if you really, really want to reach these people you have to pay for it,” said Rebecca Lieb, an analyst at research firm Altimeter Group.

Link to the rest at The Wall Street Journal (Link may expire)

Amazon Won’t Be Earth’s Biggest Bookstore. Facebook Will.

17 November 2014

From Bloomberg:

The Amazon-Hachette battle is over, to what seems like relief for publishers. Hachette seems to have gotten its most important demand: Keeping Amazon from sending prices of all its books down to $9.99. Hachette’s victory looked to be in the cards for a while. Amazon.com had a corporate blog making its case. Hachette had its writers. Wars of words are pretty much the only conflicts in which writers shine.

The conventional take on this war is that publishers are fighting for their lives in the face of Amazon’s relentless drive to cut prices. First, the thinking goes, Amazon cuts the prices. Then it cuts the publishers’ share. Next it cuts the publisher.

Only problem here: It doesn’t look so certain now that the publisher gets cut out of the equation. Consider whether, not immediately but five or 10 years from now, the one who gets cut out is … Amazon.

. . . .

Now the number of e-books sold is up while the total revenue has stayed flat — exactly the price squeeze scenario that folks worried about. So the old book business is well and truly disrupted as they say in Silicon Valley, and Apple still sits atop the heap as a hugely dominant player.

So what’s left to disrupt here? Oh, right: The e-book business. In seven years e-books have gone from essentially zero to a $3 billion business. In that time we’ve gone from dedicated reading devices, to iPad, to reading apps on every phone.

. . . .

Meanwhile the media business is now getting turned upside down by social media. News sites used to think they were competing to be your morning first-read front page. That competition is largely over. The Internet’s front-page, at least for a huge number of people is Facebook. That’s where information and entertainment gets advertised, talked about, and passed around.

The natural evolution of this is that Facebook and any social platforms that succeed it are where books ultimately will be sold. All the barriers to that are quickly falling down. At the beginning of the e-book era, e-books were tied to a specific device, your Kindle. Now they are tied to a retailer, Amazon. It’s become more and more clear that neither of those is really necessary. Lots of companies now can easily create the infrastructure to store, sell and deliver books to your app.

Link to the rest at Bloomberg and thanks to Caro for the tip.

PG says Facebook tends to evolve in a manner that chases him away. Amazon has never done that.

A good subscription for the ebook industry: Making books social

3 November 2014

From IT ProPortal:

The music, film and TV industries have all undergone radical transformations over the last fifteen years. In contrast, the publishing industry is only now feeling the full force of technological change.

Ebooks and ereaders are changing consumers’ reading habits and throwing up serious questions about how the industry can go forward on a sustainable footing. Major players in the music industry eventually solved their own sustainability issues by embracing change and incorporating subscription-based services in their business models. However, ebooks pose different problems. Subscription services alone particularly in emerging markets where content piracy is rife, do not seem viable. The magic bullet could be ‘social’.

In emerging markets subscription-based, or indeed any form of payment model has struggled to take off for companies producing media-rich content. Piracy is rife and compounded by cultural attitudes that generally regard content as something that should be free. Put simply, many people in countries like Russia don’t feel like they should pay for ebooks, digital music or TV media. This was the acute challenge that faced us when we started Bookmate in Moscow. Our solution was to build a sticky social layer with features like author pages and book playlists, coupled with access to ebooks via subscription on their phones. We found consumers became much more willing to pay as they came in search of a book on Bookmate but stayed for the all the other features.

But why are social features so appealing to ebook consumers? By integrating a user’s social network accounts, their reading is shared through several different and complimentary networks. This leads to exponential growth, as a book is shared, commented upon and recommended across several networks all at once. Research by Shoutly, a monetisation platform for the social web, revealed that a friend’s recommendation on social media is the most influential factor when buying software or ebooks, much more influential than an advert on TV or in online search results.

Link to the rest at IT ProPortal

Facebook Offers Life Raft, but Publishers Are Wary

28 October 2014

From The New York Times:

For publishers, Facebook is a bit like that big dog galloping toward you in the park. More often than not, it’s hard to tell whether he wants to play with you or eat you.

The social network now has over 1.3 billion users — a fifth of the planet’s population and has become a force in publishing because of its News Feed, which has been increasingly fine-tuned to feature high-quality content, the kind media companies produce.

. . . .

For traditional publishers, the home page may soon become akin to the print edition — nice to have, but not the primary attraction. In the last few months, more than half the visitors to The New York Times have come via mobile — the figure increases with each passing month — and that percentage is higher for many other publishers.

. . . .

Loading publishers’ web pages on a mobile device can be maddening, slowed by advertising that goes out for auction when readers click. So while Facebook loves the content, it hates the clunky technology many publishers use for mobile. When it comes to the impatient hordes on phones, speed matters above all else.

I was in San Francisco a few weeks ago and bumped into an executive who works in mobile at Facebook. He wasn’t speaking for attribution, but he derided the approach that traditional publishers take to mobile devices, saying it made for an unpleasant user experience, hurt user engagement and crippled their efforts to make money in a smartphone world.

Facebook hopes it has a fix for all that. The company has been on something of a listening tour with publishers, discussing better ways to collaborate. The social network has been eager to help publishers do a better job of servicing readers in the News Feed, including improving their approach to mobile in a variety of ways. One possibility it mentioned was for publishers to simply send pages to Facebook that would live inside the social network’s mobile app and be hosted by its servers; that way, they would load quickly with ads that Facebook sells. The revenue would be shared.

That kind of wholesale transfer of content sends a cold, dark chill down the collective spine of publishers, both traditional and digital insurgents alike. If Facebook’s mobile app hosted publishers’ pages, the relationship with customers, most of the data about what they did and the reading experience would all belong to the platform. Media companies would essentially be serfs in a kingdom that Facebook owns.

. . . .

It’s not that Facebook has a reputation for extracting vengeance, so far as I know; it’s just that the company has become the No. 1 source of traffic for many digital publishers. Yes, search from Google still creates inbound interest, and Twitter can spark attention, especially among media types, but when it comes to sheer tonnage of eyeballs, nothing rivals Facebook.

“The traffic they send is astounding and it’s been great that they have made an effort to reach out and boost quality content,” said one digital publishing executive, who declined to be identified so as not to ruffle the feathers of the golden goose. “But all any of us are talking about is when the other shoe might drop.”

Link to the rest at The New York Times and thanks to Dusty for the tip.

PG says it’s not just book publishers that are concerned with tech giants. New York content vs. West Coast tech is a recurring story. Since Bezos owns The Washington Post maybe Mark Zuckerberg should buy The New York Times.

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