Social Media

Publishers fearing Facebook dependency: fight for your future, reinvent RSS

17 August 2016

From Medium:

Right now Facebook accounts for over 40% of all traffic for U.S. news organizations, making many dependent on the social network for ad-revenue-driving traffic, even as Facebook makes moves to bring publishers’ content more wholly onto its platform (where it has control over monetization options).

. . . .

Let’s start by accepting a few fundamental realities about modern publishing:

  • No single publisher will ever have a monopoly on readers’ attention again. Digital distribution is free / extraordinarily cheap, multiple niche / focused sources will hit what people care about way more often than single / broad sources, and curation (algorithmic, platform editors, or social) that can draw from multiple sources will always have an advantage over curation that only draws from a single source (their own org’s content).
  • People want to consume content where they’re spending their time already, not spend time going to a bunch of different sources to consume content. Publishers can compete to be a worthwhile destination for the readers most closely aligned with them, but publishers whose content reaches users where they are (right now Facebook, email, Google News, YouTube, Snapchat) will always have a massive reach advantage over those who solely insist that readers must come to them.

. . . .

Facebook’s situation is pretty simple. Keeping users on the site longer / more often = more ad views = more revenue. Content (and the discussion / engagement it drives) does that.

For every other platform, it’s not just a matter of keeping already-engaged users even more engaged, it’s a matter of keeping users active at all — providing something new & interesting every day (if not every hour) is the only way for a platform to keep users coming back. User activity isn’t enough, especially for new platforms. They need content.

. . . .

This is key: by Facebook determining the technical specification for publishers’ syndicated content, Facebook determines the formatting possibilities, constraints, and monetization options of that content. And by the way, they’ll let you provide content matching that specification through RSS.

. . . .

10 years from now, publishers can live in one of two worlds: one in which they’ve stepped up to influence the ecosystem being built around their content, creating options for themselves, or one in which they’ve continued to let that ecosystem develop on its own and dictate to them the options they have available. If publishers don’t start working to reinvent and innovate on a standard of their own for content syndication, they will be letting Facebook dictate a lasting standard that serves its interests foremost.

. . . .

Publishers should create a new open standard for content syndication, and it should be built on RSS / Atom.

I can hear some developers groaning about the creation of ever more tech standards as a solution to tech standard problems. But the reality is, this isn’t a situation of many competing standards in an already-mature, already-fragmented ecosystem. This is a situation of a single, limiting standard about to dominate a still-emerging resurgence of distributed content. And the only way to fight that is to build something better.

We need a content syndication standard that accounts for things like:

  • modern kinds of content, in their native form (text enhanced with rich layouts, embeds, etc.; video in different formats; audio; photo series; interactive media)
  • different monetization options
  • analytics integration
  • richer meta data (e.g. preview photos, named entities, video / audio length)
  • getting the syndication version of a specific piece of content (replace Twitter card / Facebook open-graph markup)

If publishers worked together to create and support this standard, it would not only allow adoption from other major platforms (increasing publishers’ leverage in getting Facebook to adopt it), it would enable entirely new platforms to be built off of the plethora of newly-accessible content. And with publishers building in monetization options from the beginning, they can turn syndication from a begrudging competitive necessity to a value-building revenue channel.

Link to the rest at Medium and thanks to Joshua for the tip.

AdBlock Plus: Facebook Ads Can Still Be Blocked

12 August 2016

From PC Magazine:

Editors’ Note (8/12/2016): Facebook is, once again, back on top—for now. According to TechCrunch, the social network is rolling out an update to disable AdBlock Plus’ workaround. Our original story is below.

Well, that was fast. Just two days after Facebook announced plans to start forcing ad-blocking users to see ads on its desktop site, AdBlock Plus has already beat the social network’s new system.

In a Thursday blog post, AdBlock Plus’ Ben Williams announced that users can update their filter lists now, and start re-blocking ads on Facebook.

“We promised that the open source community would have a solution very soon, and, frankly, they’ve beaten even our own expectations,” Williams wrote. “As many of your know, the filter lists that ‘tell’ Adblock Plus what to block are in fact the product of a global community of web citizens.”

“This time that community seems to have gotten the better of even a giant like Facebook,” he added.

AdBlock Plus users can check out the post for instructions on how to manually update their filter list. If that’s too much work, just wait a day or so and the filter will be updated automatically.

Link to the rest at PC Magazine

TPV isn’t going to become a technology blog, but, in light of the strong response a previous post about Facebook’s determination to force users to look at advertisements, he thought this followup would be useful.

Facebook Will Force Advertising on Ad-Blocking Users

10 August 2016

From The Wall Street Journal:

Facebook is going to start forcing ads to appear for all users of its desktop website, even if they use ad-blocking software.

The social network said on Tuesday that it will change the way advertising is loaded into its desktop website to make its ad units considerably more difficult for ad blockers to detect.

“Facebook is ad-supported. Ads are a part of the Facebook experience; they’re not a tack on,” said Andrew “Boz” Bosworth, vice president of Facebook’s ads and business platform.

User adoption of ad-blocking software has grown rapidly in recent years, particularly outside of the U.S. According to estimates by online advertising trade body the Interactive Advertising Bureau, 26% of U.S. internet users now use ad blockers on their desktop devices. Facebook declined to comment when asked on what portion of its desktop users have ad-blocking software installed.

With the move, Facebook risks turning off some of its 1.7 billion monthly users who prefer not to see ads while browsing the internet. But users are more likely to access Facebook’s app on smartphones and tablets, which are less susceptible to ad blocking than personal computers. Facebook will not circumvent ad blockers on mobile devices.

. . . .

Facebook says it has lost some desktop ad revenue as a result of ad blockers. The technology poses enough of a threat that Facebook added it as separate risk factor in its annual securities filing this year.

The change will open up more online ad space for it to sell, although Mr. Bosworth said that wasn’t the motivation for the move.

“This isn’t motivated by inventory; it’s not an opportunity for Facebook from that perspective,” Mr. Bosworth said. “We’re doing it more for the principle of the thing. We want to help lead the discussion on this.”

Nonetheless, Facebook stands to gain financially from showing ads to ad-blocking users.

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

PG wonders why an advertising agency would be interested in buying ads on Facebook when Facebook is forcing ads on users who hate ads enough to install an ad-blocker. Are those ads of any value to the advertiser?

Maybe supporting “the principle of the thing” is more important than getting ads in front of people who don’t actively object to them.

The Complete, Always-Updated Guide to Facebook Advertising

9 August 2016

From Buffer:

Social media has been found to be the most effective digital advertising channel for getting more impressions, clicks, and conversions. Facebook in particular stands out — in some cases, 7x cheaper than the next most affordable social media ads channel (Twitter).

. . . .

There are now over 3 million businesses advertising on Facebook and there’s never been a better time to start than now.

Here are just a few reasons why Facebook Advertising is hugely exciting for marketers:

  • Audience size: Facebook now boasts over 1.13 billion daily active users on – 1.03 billion of which access the social network via mobile devices.
  • Attention: People spend a lot of time on social networks. The average user spends about 50 minutes just on Facebook, Instagram, and Messenger every day.
  • Oragnic reach decline: Organic reach on Facebook has been in decline for a few years now and has almost hit zero. If you want to break through now, Facebook is all but a pay-to-play network.
  • Targeting: The targeting options within Facebook Ads is incredible. Business can target users with by location, demographics, age, gender, interests, behavior, and much more.

. . . .

Before we get too deep into the specifics of Facebook advertising, I wanted to share this amazing list of pros and cons from the Moz blog, which was so helpful in our deciding how to pursue Facebook Ads for Buffer.

Pros

  • Campaigns are easy to track
  • Immediate influx of traffic
  • Complete control over your daily budget and maximum Cost-per-click
  • Instant return on investment (You can easily define a cost per conversion and understand what your profit is)
  • More targeting options, including, towns, regions, age, likes/interests, income bracket, and other demographics
  • Easier to set up than Google AdWords
  • The ability to reach people early on in the buying process, before they are aware of their need, while capturing those who are aware of the need in a subtle way
  • You can use images and videos to capture the interest of your target market, helping you to sell your products and services
  • CPC is relatively cheap, depending on your industry (On average, no more than $0.61 per click)

Cons

  • If set up and managed incorrectly, it can be costly, but less so than Google AdWords
  • Depending on your target market, the majority of the large potential audience can be irrelevant (For instance, we would not recommend Facebook Advertising if someone only served or supplied their products and services to one town)
  • There is no option to target your ads at certain times within the day or on certain days of the week unless you choose a lifetime budget
  • Most suitable for those operating in B2C markets
  • Reaching people too early in the buying cycle could potentially reduce your goal conversion rate

Link to the rest at Buffer

The Changing Face of Social Media

7 August 2016

From author Brian Keene:

Email newsletters are hot again. Seems like every writer, actor, musician, and stand-up comic I know has started an email newsletter over the past year, or is planning on it. The reasons are simple. Blogging is dead. Readers don’t automatically go to a Blog each day, because instead, they spend their time on Facebook. It is very hard for anyone in the entertainment industry to convince people to click beyond Facebook, let alone get them to invest time in reading a Blog.

The problem for entertainers is that Facebook no longer works unless you spend money. For each thing I post there, approximately 1,000 of my 11,000 followers see it — unless I spend money to boost the post into their feeds. Yes, spending money on advertising is a necessary evil, but the way Facebook’s algorithm works, if you have more than 10,000 followers, you basically have to spend money on each and every post. Which means you eventually end up spending more than you are making.

The other problem is the changing tone of social media. It’s one thing to interact with people and answer questions and have some fun. It’s another to have people shout abuse at you or to deal with that one entitled person who monopolizes all of your online time each and every day just because they follow you on the social media platform of their choice. Writers would get a lot more written if they didn’t have to Google things for people who apparently don’t know about Google, and most of us are really not interested in your thoughts on how your pet hamster, Freddy, has proof that vaccines are a conspiracy concocted by both Trump and Clinton.

As always, most of my peers aren’t talking publicly about the changing face of social media, but it’s ALL they’re talking about in private.

. . . .

I said last year that this website would eventually be used for nothing more than news and announcements, and we’ve pretty much reached that point. I’ve also been warning you for the last year that I anticipate pulling back from social media in the future.

. . . .

An email newsletter solves many of these problems. It can get news and announcements out to people who want to see them, without having to rely on Facebook or Twitter to do it (because as we have established, those methods are becoming less and less effective as tools for that). And it allows me a place to Blog every week, and to talk about writing-specific things and personal things I might not have gotten to on the podcast.

Link to the rest at Brian Keene and thanks to J.A. for the tip.

Here’s a link to Brian Keene’s books. If you like an author’s post, you can show your appreciation by checking out their books.

Facebook: Clickbait Has No Place in News Feeds

5 August 2016

From the Facebook newsroom:

Our goal with News Feed is to show people the stories most relevant to them — ranking stories so that what’s most important to each person shows up highest in their News Feeds. When we rank and make improvements to News Feed, we rely on a set of core values. These values — which we’ve been using for years — guide our thinking, and help us keep the central experience of News Feed intact as it evolves.

One of our News Feed values is to have authentic communication on our platform. People have told us they like seeing authentic stories the most. That’s why we work hard to understand what type of stories and posts people consider genuine, so we can show more of them in News Feed. We also work to understand what kinds of stories people find misleading and spammy to help make sure people see those less.

We’ve heard from people that they specifically want to see fewer stories with clickbait headlines or link titles. These are headlines that intentionally leave out crucial information, or mislead people, forcing people to click to find out the answer. For example: “When She Looked Under Her Couch Cushions And Saw THIS… I Was SHOCKED!”; “He Put Garlic In His Shoes Before Going To Bed And What Happens Next Is Hard To Believe”; or “The Dog Barked At The Deliveryman And His Reaction Was Priceless.”

. . . .

To address clickbait headlines, we previously made an update to News Feed that reduces the distribution of posts that lead people to click and then quickly come back to News Feed. While this update helped, we’re still seeing Pages rely on clickbait headlines, and people are still telling us they would prefer to see clearly written headlines that help them decide how they want to spend their time and not waste time on what they click.

We are focusing more effort on this, and are updating News Feed by using a system that identifies phrases that are commonly used in clickbait headlines. First, we categorized tens of thousands of headlines as clickbait by considering two key points: (1) if the headline withholds information required to understand what the content of the article is; and (2) if the headline exaggerates the article to create misleading expectations for the reader. For example, the headline “You’ll Never Believe Who Tripped and Fell on the Red Carpet…” withholds information required to understand the article (What happened? Who Tripped?) The headline “Apples Are Actually Bad For You?!” misleads the reader (apples are only bad for you if you eat too many every day). A team at Facebook reviewed thousands of headlines using these criteria, validating each other’s work to identify a large set of clickbait headlines.

From there, we built a system that looks at the set of clickbait headlines to determine what phrases are commonly used in clickbait headlines that are not used in other headlines. This is similar to how many email spam filters work.

Our system identifies posts that are clickbait and which web domains and Pages these posts come from. Links posted from or shared from Pages or domains that consistently post clickbait headlines will appear lower in News Feed. News Feed will continue to learn over time — if a Page stops posting clickbait headlines, their posts will stop being impacted by this change. We’ll continue to update how we identify clickbait as we improve our systems and hear more from people using News Feed.

Link to the rest at the Facebook newsroom

Slaying the Dragon: Social Media for Writers

5 August 2016

From Chuck Wendig:

Writer Christa Desir tweeted from a conference that Random House gives its authors a social media grade, which is to suggest that social media is important to a writer’s existence. (I for one would like to know my social media grade. Also my liquor consumption grade, my self-doubt score, and the percentages that show just exactly how much of an impostor I actually am. GET ON THAT, PUBLISHERS.) I have no idea if this idea is in any way malevolent or misguided on the part of the publisher — I’ll go ahead and be optimistic and assume that the grade is not to judge or diminish an author but simply to show authors who might could use a little coaching on social media. Because on social media you can do some good or you can do some ill-ass evil, and hey, maybe it’s a good thing to help people understand what it means to be a writer-person in the online world. (Thanks go to Christa for putting this stuff out there, by the way, because this one of the ways that author social media is best: writers sharing information with other writers.)

Anyway.

I’d like to say some things regarding writers hoping to use social media to sell books and expand their audiences — well, first, I’d say that please do realize that every friend or follower is also not a 1:1 reader. Meaning, they read your tweets, not your books. They may eventually come over to reading your books, or they may have started as a reader of books and then segued into being a reader of tweets, but it’s not an automagic process. People don’t follow you on Twitter or Instagram and suddenly become MINDSLAVES TO YOUR WRITING. Your words are not a meme-based parasite that drives them to seek your words in other quantity. (I’m working on that, but so far the science has failed me.) Often enough, though, we pretend this is the case. That social media success is the same as book success, or that one follows the other, or that they’re intimately connected — two forces cosmically joined in word-squishing fornication.

The success of your book does not rely upon social media.

And the success of your social media does not rely upon your book.

The two flirt with each other. But they are not perfectly bound.

Link to the rest at Terrible Minds and thanks to Alexis for the tip.

Here’s a link to Chuck Wendig’s books. If you like an author’s post, you can show your appreciation by checking out their books.

PG thinks Random House authors should consider giving their editors grades for speed, editorial competence, book publicity, author relations skills and a few other things. Then maybe total up the grades once a year and send them to the CEO of Randy Penguin.

If editors knew they were being graded, perhaps they would work harder to help authors sell their books.

And, for all those PRH authors who get straight A’s in Social Media, if you’re that good at marketing your books, you could make a lot more money as an indie.

3 Facebook Changes You Need to Know About

3 August 2016

From Digital Book World:

The competition to be king of the social media hill is hotter than ever, and Facebook cannot coast just because it’s on top.

. . . .

Here are the three major changes we’ve seen lately and how they might or might not affect your book marketing.

1. The 20-percent text rule on ads is officially gone.This has been coming for a while as a slow rollout, but now it is in effect across the board. You can now stuff as much text in a Facebook ad as you like—not that it’s a good practice. However, you are no longer bound by the famous 20-percent rule and that awful grid tool. But where there’s good news there is also a caution. According to expert Jon Loomer:

“Your ads will no longer be rejected for having too much text. However, the more text in your image, you can expect less distribution and higher costs. Images will no longer be broken up into a 5×5 grid. Going forward, Facebook breaks down text density into four categories: ok, low, medium, [and] high.”

You may have already noticed this in messages you’re seeing before you press the order button on an ad. I’ve tested this with varying amounts of text on ads and I can testify that reach is hampered when you go over the 20-percent mark.

. . . .

2. The friends and family plan. In June, Facebook announced yet another change to its newsfeed to respond to what it called continual concern that people could not see the posts from friends and family they wanted to see. This change, however, will affect mostly brands that you rarely interact with. It will make your newsfeed more personal and less based on what other people think is interesting. Friends and those designated as family will be the priority.

What it means: be sure you educate your fans. Ask them to designate your page as one they want to “See First.” I’d even include a little instruction:

On my Facebook page, hover over “Liked.” Under “In Your News Feed,” click “See First.”

Link to the rest at Digital Book World

 

Facebook Ads Work: How to Use Facebook to Reach Niche Readers

25 July 2016

From TPV regular, Barb Morgenroth via Anne R. Allen’s Blog:

Eight years ago when I began a second career as an indie author after many years in traditional publishing as well as television, my middle grade book,Impossible Charlie, was the only new book in its category.

Total book visibility!

By the time 2016 rolled around, things changed with the avalanche of indie books being published. Most books and authors are now inundated under hundreds of thousands of other books and authors.

The lament became one word: “discoverability”.

Up sprang book bloggers and book tours and promo sites, the Holy Grail being Bookbub. But the choices of who they accept are as mysterious as Amazon’s algorithms.

Authors grasped at any lifeline they could find and were largely disappointed.

I tried everything, changing covers, titles and blurbs. I got reviews, toured, and did everything everyone said worked. But…they didn’t.

Why?

My potential readers weren’t at Amazon. They were somewhere else.

Like Facebook.

It turns out Facebook ads work.

Pros—

  • There are about a billion people on Facebook.
  • Facebook targeting to reach your audience is precise.
  • You don’t have to rely on anyone and (unlike Bookbub) Facebook is not going to reject you.

Cons—

  • There is a learning curve.
  • It can be expensive—although when compared to some of the Bookbub fees—it’s a bargain.
  • You need patience, and you’ll have to do some work.

I’ve been advertising on Facebook for some months and my mailing list has increased by a factor of 6, going from a very small audience to quite a substantial one. This is good. It was easy. I’ve made back my investment. Win!

Link to the rest at Anne R. Allen’s Blog

Here’s a link to Barb Morgenroth’s books. If you like an author’s post, you can show your appreciation by checking out their books.

Google My Activity

30 June 2016

The recent announcement of a new service – Google My Activity – has enlightened many internet users about the information they leave behind as they bounce around the online world.

If you click through to https://myactivity.google.com/ Google will show you what it remembers about you. For most people, this information will continue for page after page after page.

 

Next Page »