Instagram Stalls, Time to get Worried?

tumblr_ni919clKSx1sp8304o1_1280

As Instagram rolls out it’s battle tank to increase revenue, usage statistics are tanking. Which is sort of ironic since the whole idea was to innovate and get more advertising money.

The dearth of technology is tied to innovation. Instagram has been slow to the finishing line since it was purchased by that behemoth, Facebook. People are sharing less on Facebook and for Instagram, people spend less time on it than in previous year.

Advertising on Instagram got a whole lot easier in 2016, namely, anyone with a Facebook account can buy adverts now on Instagram. It is basically the same way you buy Facebook advertising. No different except that you get to put your adverts up within a user’s newsfeed.

Not long ago, Instagram started to ditch its show me everything newsfeed to adopt a tuned algorithm. They will show you more of what you like….or suggest users that have similar post which you like and at the same time, take into account the number of likes and views of your particular post and tell the world where you stand. What do you make of it? Well, it is really to justify what you pay for. If your advert or post get shown to an audience, you get to see how many times it has been viewed. It cuts both ways.

Metrics are everything but results are a wee bit subjective.

Instagram is Spreading its Wings

If you happen to like posting stuff, Instagram now helps you to get discovered. Content consumers may not have an idea on who to follow so this clue might be helpful when users who have similar post you like are often suggested. Herein lies the problem.

Instagram-signup

With 80% of its users now from outside the US, up from 75% last fall, Instagram’s growth has relied heavily on its popularity in overseas countries like Japan, Germany, France and Indonesia.

Marketing overseas got easier but not all of them speak English. So Instagram has introduced instant translations for post for users to read. 

This two prong approach sort of solves the problem but it doesn’t quite solve the engagement problem. People are using Instagram less as it is so yesterday, and this has gotten Instagram worried of course, and as a brand advertiser, you should be too.

If you don’t catch enough eyeballs, then where should you be?

Time to Get Worried?

Instagram has also hit 300 million daily active users. While 300 million is impressive, CNBC reported that Instagram usage has actually dropped 23.7% between this year and last . So even as Instagram is reaching a wider daily audience, its users are spending less time in-app. Less time means less revenue for Instagram and this is how it plays out.

The immediacy of an advertising campaign doesn’t mean you should be throwing more dollars at Instagram but to spread that reach wider on both traditional and online advertising and not rely on social media alone.

drop

That’s because the Daily Usage has tanked for Facebook and Instagram. People don’t post as much anymore or for that matter share or check their newsfeed to the point Instagram has to send you suggestions on who to follow and what to follow in terms of interest and pages.

Since the adverts are targeted, advertising can be directed at a particular profile but this will not stop ads from running meaninglessly when users scroll pass them. Do I recall what I just saw that was inserted into my news feed? Nope. Nor do I care since whatever advertising that was directed at me wasn’t of interest to me.

Videos got Longer on Instagram

Posting video is being extended to a whole 1 min. However Twitter has countered this allowing videos up to 140 seconds long with Vine. Wow. Would you be bored?

download-1

The fight for video time is apparently getting longer for these two competing platforms but Twitter still lacks punch. Instagram is more social media while Twitter is more conversational. Even when Twitter can stand up on its own with the combination of Vine and Periscope, it can be a bandwidth hog if you’re not too careful with your mobile data.

This is what is keeping people from streaming on mobile. Data is expensive and viewers would rather watched the saved videos on Wifi.

Collective Engagement is the Key

The only reason why Starbucks would set up another shop a block down the road from the first one is location. If that is the case, then a collective engagement is what you are after should you have a social media strategy.

I find it pointless to pit Instagram with Twitter and Vine, or Google+ with Facebook. It is a collective engagement (the sum of its total) that you are interested in because duplicating content on all your social media platforms bores the hell out of people. Why should I follow your Instagram feed if you post the same stuff on Twitter? Or for that matter on Facebook or Google+.

Return on Investment Explained

ROI is very simple to explain in advertising terms. The aim is always thrice the amount of return on whatever you have spent in promotional activities.

The amount of time spent, and the effort put it has to justify the results. The rough advertising reach model is three times the cost in terms of ROI. So if you calculate all your social media time and effort to a daily rate, and if you multiply that in terms of dollar value by three times, this is the actual benefit you should be receiving from this collective engagement on social media for a weekly or monthly expense. If you are not getting that in ROI, then it is pointless to continue social media activities.

This justification is what doomed Facebook’s stubborn approach to organic reach and would happen the same way to Instagram if it is not careful. If an advertising or promotional effort is costing more than what it returns to brands and businesses, then the money would be better spent elsewhere.

 

 

 

How Facebook is spamming you…on your Newsfeed

th

Everyone at some point would like to buy girl scout cookies to support the outfit. Imagine if you did, then automatically a whole bunch of them would descend on your neighbors to ask them to buy into it as well.

This is what is happening with Facebook’s new Newsfeed algorithm. During the conference, a warning shot was fired on the new Newsfeed algorithm where you are shown content from which your friends have liked. What they didn’t tell you was that the liked items were in fact sponsored adverts.

newsfeed3sp

The powers that be in Facebook decided that well, we need to target these sponsored adverts and here is a great way to do it, asking you directly if you would want to see it in your newsfeed. As these are adverts and not content, you get the idea where they are coming from.

feedbac

 

When I read the Improve your News Feed content box, I was actually thinking, hey, maybe there are some contents that I missed since I don’t want to see so many adverts on the time line. It is no secret that Facebook tracks the cookie trails left from your visit to Amazon, Aliexpress and any shopping portal and targets you with adverts.

So each time you see an advert on your timeline with the same item which you had searched for on a shopping site, you know it is them.

 

Facebook monetizes you as a commodity. So only advertisers will be spammed to your time line each time you click a preference of the sort of adverts to show up on your newsfeed. To avoid this, click at this spot to give them the run around.

clickhere

How to deal with Adverts on your Newsfeed

Each time you see an advert on your newsfeed and scroll pass it, Facebook algorithm thinks you may have missed it. So it keeps popping up over and over again. To banish them, you should do the following.

adnews

When you click on HIDE ADVERT,  a new pop up box appears.

hidrefromtimeline

All you have to do is click any of the advert options. I usually selected the third as I find it offensive that Facebook is showing me adverts on my timeline.

Adverts are now OVER Whelming!

It is high time users demand useful content versus paid ones. The sidebar is already full of adverts in the PC browser window. The migration of users to mobile apps is what made Facebook turn to Newsfeed adverts.

Over 80 percent of any FB Page views are now on Mobile devices, and if you don’t claw back some of that space from your newsfeed, it will get worse as more and more adverts will start to appear on you FB mobile app Newsfeed, so that means you see less and less of actual content.

Actual content are those which takes you to the article hosted on a news or blogging site. These Facebook Newsfeed adverts just takes you to another shopping site.

If this case, bloggers and content creators are no longer needed since Facebook already started testing out Instant Articles, which may give some bloggers the eyeballs but not necessarily the traffic you need to sustain your blog. This clandestine way or selling adverts to FB users is another nail in the coffin for bloggers and content creators.

Content creators are being squeeze out of the picture while users of Facebook have to bear the brunt of increasing data traffic to your timeline that are….adverts.

So let’s all put a stop to it before it gets any worst.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Facebook Live takes aim at Periscope and Meerkat

live-3screen

Have you downloaded Facebook Mentions? It’s an app for would be celebrities, news and media organizations and just anyone who is remotely famous.

Why is Facebook pulling a stunt like this?

Well, you may have heard of Periscope and Meerkat, two live streaming apps but there are a few more that does similar things….like Twitch, which is opening up to non gamers and smaller players like Mobli, which has a Live Stream option for you to broadcast to an audience.

Facebook clearly thinks it is big enough to game this. So they hired a bunch of famous people and paid them a lot of money for them to live stream their day to day chores for your entertainment.

This is not the end of it. Facebook Live is technically in Close Beta, meaning only people who are truly celebrities will be given a chance to go Live.

The option is also available to brands who wish to connect LIVE with an audience and any Facebook Business Page will qualify but it has to be vetted. So if your FB Page only has 1,000 likes and sells designer aprons, chances are you get booted to the end of the queue if you ever attempted to register for FB Live.

After spending many months researching Periscope. I have found a ton of caveats.

Unlike Snapchat, where a select few gets invited to broadcast a feed that you can view before it disappears into nothingness, FB Live follows closely on the heels of Periscope and Meerkat. The chart below will give you an idea on who is watching what on both Meerkat and Periscope.

GWIPeriscopeVsMeerkatInfographic

The FB Live stream plays to all your followers, and followers will be informed of a Live broadcast as it happens. This is probably one of the most difficult media channels to master as people have to be subscribed to your notifications and at the same time be able to flip open the mobile app at the shortest moment of notice to watch you do dumb or entertaining things.

This recorded LIVE feed will be kept on your Page timeline forever, but people outside of your FB Page won’t know it exist.

Plans are afoot to make those recorded Live feeds available in Facebook search itself though I haven’t found out how they are going to do this without charging someone for the privilege. All recorded video streaming will be available through the search but knowing humans and their weird taste for entertainment, no one is going to watch a Donald Trump  speech no matter how entertaining it is. What’s more, any search now in FB will yield ZERO recorded live broadcast on your browser search, so the Video search isn’t exactly working at the moment except maybe for the overloaded Facebook app for mobile. Why would you watch video streaming on mobile is beyond me unless you have unlimited mobile data plans.

The close beta will probably become an open beta before going global. How is FB going to monetize this is beyond me but as a content developer, you should be aware of this before doubling down on that spiffy new mobile device and mobile data plan just to go Live.

Streaming right now is only restricted to chosen Facebook Mention celebrities. Each video segment is restricted to only 30 mins. Any more than that means you need a second FB Mentions account or are incredibly famous that FB will bend over to lick your boots.

Moving on to a Live broadcast is pretty easy. You can see the steps here.

One of the other problems with Live Broadcast is the poor quality of the videos. Both Meerkat and Periscope suffer from this. Facebook Live is no different. As for the follow-ship. Those voyeuristic folks who follow you aren’t really that large a number for now.

Meerkat-Periscope-Statistics

If you look at the above chart, you’d soon realize that FB Live subscribers will be dependent on your followers of your FB page. For Periscope and Meerkat, these platforms can be independent of Twitter followers and this means if you have a million Twitter followers doesn’t mean you will automatically have a million Periscope followers.

Periscope-Sharing-Statistics

Bandwidth is dependent on many environmental factors and since you don’t have a good connection, your videos will be cutting out, jumpy and highly irritating. Even if you broadcast often, you’d might be able to increase the number of followers on your Periscope or Meerkat account without the same number of followers to your Twitter account. The above chart says it all, over a 8 day period, the number of videos you have to produce to keep up the frenzy is pretty high. And because of time zone differences, you won’t be discovered unless you are broadcasting something that is already trending on social media. Unlike FB Live, Periscope only keeps the stream you follow and kept about one day before it disappears. Meerkat on the other hand allows followers to keep the stream by hitting a record button. This means followers who like your stream have the ability to store it forever…until Meerkat gets bought out or closes down.

For FB Live, your only option to increase followers is to double down on FB advertising to increase your Page Likes or Followers. There is no other option. FB Live isn’t stand alone and is tied to your FB Page account.

Going forward, you have to ask yourself as a content creator/producer, would people be keen to watch you Live or maybe keep it real with a recorded broadcast on YouTube.

With Live streams, it’s just you and the audience. You cannot do any splicing, cleaver editing, add creative effects or cut to music if you wanted to. So for branding purposes, the scope for content developers is restricted.

What’s more, the experience for your followers is mostly restricted to a talking head (meaning you just doing the talking). So unless you got plenty to say within 30 minutes, which is relevant to your followers, you’re better off not saying anything and just answer questions they might for you, like….your success or failure as a celeb or on the new Portaloo that you are helping to endorse.

Don’t even count the chickens before they are hatched. Live streaming doesn’t automatically guaranteed 150,000 strong audience. I would think you’d be lucky to have 15. Recorded repalys might give you a further 100 to 200 eyeballs but that’s normally how far it goes when you’re not a member of the Kardashians.

Even with Live event broadcast, you might get a few stragglers who would ask you questions on the fly. But in any Live stream, it is just you and your followers where the interaction is via a keyboard. You get to speak to them of course after reading their questions on your mobile device display but I don’t think you should try getting philosophical about it.

Lastly, beyond looking at some famous celebs going Live and chatting to them, you can already engage most of them via Twitter directly. Facebook Live hasn’t got any real benefit except for FB asking money for you to get more followers for your Page. What’s more, with the new emphasis on Video, your YouTube videos will definitely be more interesting to watch.

As a precursor to bigger things to come, Facebook’s investment in Occulus Rift may be the eventual goal. By Live Streaming VR videos, be it in 360 or 180 degrees, you will be giving a new experience to people watching you. This is unfortunately only for the future and isn’t applicable to Facebook Live just yet.

So what is Facebook Live good for now? Nothing much….until Virtual Reality or VR Live videos take off.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Microsoft fluffs its Content App Sprightly

mssprightlycontentcreation

If April came early, this would have been a nice joke. Microsoft released a content creation app called Sprightly on the Google Play store.

Initially I was mildly surprised that Microsoft Garage would incubate the concept for this app and release it as it is.

Now, it is billed as a really a tool for creating flyers, pricelist, catalog and eCards.

After I took it for a spin, I didn’t know what to say. I had to drown myself in absinthe and feast on rotted cheese to clear the memory of that experience.

I do not know what to say.

Microsoft isn’t the most creative company in the world. After a string of misses, they still do not understand what people want. Which makes me wonder if they are at all serious about content creation.

These are the folks who set the bar for Microsoft Office. Since then, they have wallowed in the mud, stepped on a few landmines and followed a sure path down hill.

Real World Applications

Why is Sprightly so bad?

Let’s say you wanted to create a catalog, of say four items to showcase on your instagram or Facebook page. The first thing you will realize is that you have no control over the cropping of your images, you have to crop your photo to the correct shape before using it on the template.

There are no tools to beautify the image either. So if you didn’t enhance your photo before you took it, you are pretty much fucked.

Then you have no creative control over the fonts used. It is as if the 21st century never happened. It has only ONE font option and you can have any color for that font as long as it is black.

Then you have the sad lack of creative layout for template choices.

I know. Microsoft is as creative as a culinary chef from McDonalds. They recycle ideas from the last century and hope you don’t notice but no one told them they got found out.

Content is all about Catching your Eye

This is where Microsoft gets it all wrong. By coming out with a vanilla grey Sprightly app, they think you should communicate in black and white.

The creative option is as rigid as adamantium. You can’t add borders, or for that matter use a different paper color. It is also is unable to make things attractive to the eye with creatively curated fonts.

All you do with the Sprightly app is to drop in a picture, fill in the descriptions and maybe the price and leave it at that. There is really nothing else you can do with it.

Is it simple to use?

Yes. If all you want is to drop a pix and add a price, yea. But that’s not to say that you can’t do this on other apps.

The multipage feature may sound brilliant but is hardly useful.

The flyer option is dead boring. How would you want an flyer that bores the hell out of people when you send it to them?

I suppose the idea behind this app is to integrate a host of services that Microsoft offers online but this addition is by no means cohesive.

You don’t fetch files from your skydrive or import excel files into your Sprightly document.

Maybe I am being harsh here after all, it is Version 1.0. Who knows what might happen with Version 2.

For now, I think that the app is probably suitable for the more geriatric members of Microsoft  who probably think that dropping a picture and adding a description is probably all you want to do when sending out a sales list or catalog.

As insane as it sounds, they might be right but I can assure you, the rest of us will disagree.

 

YouTube Red to remedy Content blocked with AdBlockers

youtube-red

One of the problems faced by content creators these days is that more and more people are blocking ads that helps fund content. For example, a lot of the stuff you watch on YouTube is advertising funded, but if you use a ad blocker, then content creators are going to suffer.

This is apparently the line taken by Apple, which in its war with Google (who also owns YouTube) is launching adblocking as a native option for iPhones. This means, ads won’t be showing up where content is displayed.

This is bad news for you, as a content creator if you are relying on eyeballs to help support your content creation efforts. However it won’t affect you if you happen to be video blogging about your own business and the content you display is basically a means to promote your own business online.

This is why Google has introduced YouTube Red.

youtube-red-android

Now, Red sounds terrible as a name. It smacks of communism and China but in reality, it’s just another portal to get you to pay for content. It is a channel to monetize content for creators which isn’t new. Vimeo has similar subscriptions for content in its PRO service where you can sell your content in return for a fee of US$200 a year.

For Red, YouTube will pay you for the eyeballs you attract on your channel but your channel will not be available to free to view public streams. The other thing is that your content is distributed on a pay to view by hour basis of a subscriber. This means that YouTube takes 45 percent of the subscription revenue while the remaining 55 percent is distributed to content creators base on the number of hours a viewer spends on your channel. So if say a subscriber views your channel 10 hours a month out of 20 hours in total, you get 50 percent of the revenue.

YouTube Red also opens up the possibility of funding for your content creation. So if you have a channel which is valued, you might get some cash tossed your way to produce even more content.

At launch, the new YouTube service will carry a few unique channels not found on ‘free to stream’ public channels. These include…

  • Scare PewDiePie: a reality-adventure series
  • Sing It!: a scripted comedy that lovingly satirizes the reality singing competitions
  • Fight of the Living Dead: famous YouTubers trapped in “a frighteningly realistic zombie apocalypse”
  • A Trip to Unicorn Island: feature-length movie gives fans a look inside the life and journey of Lilly Singh on a 26-city tour

Some pundits have pointed out the caveat to all this is that fans who are not subscribed to Red, won’t be able to view your channel anywhere in the world.

For the majority of YouTube fans, who have been fed a steady stream of free content, the thought of paying for a subscription sounds too Netflix.

We do not know at this stage if the content you watch on Red is sharable to other social networks and if they are not, then there is no chance of your channel ever being promoted outside of the YouTube universe. This is a chicken and egg issue as if you’re not already famous on YouTube with millions of views, chances are you are not going to get noticed on Red.

So it has to work both ways, for subscribers to view their favourite content that is now found on YouTube Red, they have to subscribe, otherwise they won’t be getting their fix anytime soon.

Twitter and Google in unholy Alliance?

twitter-google-logos4-1920-800x450

What unholy mother of god is this? Why is Google taking in Twitter feeds as part of its Search result?

The announcement made by Twitter was a rude shock to some and to many others, a serious flaw in Google strategy. Or is it? Let me explain the witchcraft behind all this.

Google previously paid to have access to Twitter’s firehose of post. Then the partnership broke down and never was heard from again. This time round, it’s on again with real time feeds being optimized to appear on Google SERPs. Google has a plan but what is it?

Does this mean I need to have Twitter to get a better Search Ranking?

This depends on several factors but you won’t get penalized for not having Twitter. Google is all about finding content and if you don’t have any, no point griping about it.

Is there a reason for having to support a Twitter channel for all my content marketing campaigns?

Having your Twitter Nick isn’t going to help you get a better ranking as the search engine is focused on real time tweets, this means news, events that makes the grade. Having a twitter feed just so you have a better SERP mileage won’t translate well until you know how to place you hashtags where it matters most.

What do you mean by hashtags for SERPs?

Remember trending stories that Twitter often suggest to you? That’s what Google is interested in and not your million of followers or for that matter, your URL post on marketing your wares. Hashtags help to identify trending stories and if you don’t have them. You are pretty much wasted.

So how do I make a difference with Twitter on Google SERPs?

Now you asked the golden question. You can make a difference on two points, first being relevant to the trending events, so hashtags could find your post listed on a Google search. The second is really….you guessed it, video content!

How Live Video is boosting Twitter Content

When Twitter bought out Vine, it gained a small footprint for video content. Sure the 6 seconds of fame isn’t going to last you and since it loops. It’s more about capturing the essence of the moment. Hell, it’s a video loop. What value is that? Probably not much but judging from the latest developments, it’s more a parlay of Periscope and a Meerkat.

Two mobile platforms, Meerkat and Periscope, are LIVE streaming apps which at this moment is unsupported in social media except Twitter. Google has a hangout feature to broadcast live but these are often used in teleconferencing and online seminars. It is also very unproductive to live stream events when no one is watching. Content has to be found and what better way to do this than on Twitter.

Content has to be trending issues and this is where you use hashtags. Indexing content using hashtags is nothing new, however if you have a hashtag that is hot…at that very moment it is happening…. guess what? Google has no access to that!

3043404-inline-i-1-meerkat-video-app

Live streaming from mobile has existed for many years, but it’s integration in social media is kinda fluffy, There are sites like younow, which streams people’s lives to the world. It has been a bit of a hit in Europe and the US but has yet to catch up in the rest of the globe. However with the Meerkat and Periscope platforms on mobile, content can now be streamed via a social platform—which is great for discovering the latest happenings.

With Meerkat and Periscope, you can virtually capture a live feed as it happens on Twitter. The recent bout between the Pacman and Mayweather is a good example on how to skirt moves to block the live fight over the internet. People only had to use this to get a video feed as it happens on TV or at the scene. Great!

periscope

So what Google has sneakily done is to add more content to SERPs without any real benefit to someone who has a Twitter account listed on a website. So unless you provide a running video feed of some kind or contribute to a trending hashtag would Google be interested in what you are showing.

In the end, it’s all about the content.

So don’t loose sleep over this integration. Google has to benefit substantially from this partnership more than Twitter. You on the other hand need only know that your live porn post of yourself skinny dipping in a mud pool can only be found if you used a trending hashtag. It might sound awesome but seriously folks. It’s all about the moment and how we are engrossed in it.

Content Creation and Curation Tips for Tumblr

tumblr-user-statistics

Tumblr is many things, a blogging platform as well as a social space. The problem why Tumblr is difficult to understand is that it is relatively popular only in the US, and this makes any global outreach strategy difficult to justify but to be fair, it’s all about repositioning your post to appeal to a younger and more vibrant audience.

During the US elections, Tumblr users were a targeted demographic. Why? It is the young that will shape the future of the country and their views and opinion counts.

Any global brand have to recognize the need to cultivate the interest of the grass roots before they can be harvested as customers. Building that interest doesn’t happen overnight. It takes times and there are many competing brands in the market place which are doubling down on that reach.

Another thing about Tumblr is that it is social. Fellow bloggers connect with one another and this has been a winning strategy for brands who want more exposure. Bloggers on Tumblr are accessible to both readers and brands. It’s also part Twitter, #hastags rule the roost, if you content isn’t tagged, you don’t get found of followed.

Tumblr is all about Content

tumblr_n3ft4idq361r7ealro1_500

Forgets about trying to ‘convert’ or monetize. Tumblr is really for those who have content to share. Brand building, engagements with fans, and even a short blog for your company with lots of pictures and hashtags are good to go.

tumpageview

Let’s not deny the fact that the Internet generation is a little short on attention span. Long form journalism isn’t a way of life for the young. They like pictures and short sentences. Got a video? That’s cool too.

Trying to push them stuff via a shopping cart isn’t going to work. Think of it as a picture catalog of content. Cast your subjects in the best light. You build anticipation and if they like what they see, they could hit the shopping cart button to buy something.

Age-Profile-of-Active-Users-on-Social-Networks

Like Pinterest, there are more women than men on Tumblr, and from the stats above (taken from Alexa), you get the idea that they are the school going sort who spend a whopping 15 mins at a time browsing Tumblr content. There are trending topics for people to discover and since Yahoo acquired them, there has been a visible change in their content discovery strategy.

Tumblr is a fully loaded CMS platform

social-shop

WordPress CMS is the platform of choice for most companies, but Tumblr is the most popular, beating WordPress to a pulp in the process. It has all the options to set up multiple pages like a real website, and is totally social, allowing you to link your Flickr, Pinterest, Facebook and Google Plus pages and profile right into the blog. What’s more you can even link your online shop which is redirected. It may not have the muscle to process transactions but with the link embed, you can still bounce potential customers to your online store.

Multiple page navigation is a great way to start a full blown website. Think of the navigation links your company or service needs and it will be fulfilled. No need to host it on WordPress if you are on a budget. Tumblr will do fine for those who are not accustomed to writing long passages or at describing what they do. You don’t have to be corporate sounding too. Just be cool and you’re hip.

Tumblr is US centric

countrystats

There are a lot of lurkers on Tumblr. These are the folks who subscribe to Tumblr just to view content while not having anything else to share. It is a wonderful place to dust off your old pictures and post them online with the appropriate hashtag.

The problem with Tumblr is that it isn’t a global phenomena. Most of the web traffic is from the US.

Re-purposing Content for Tumblr

tumblr_static_9etkvvx9ms08scko048os8808

Tumblr was created to showcase content in a grid space. This means your content, regardless of the material has to flow vertically or be placed in a grid like manner for every content post.

Consuming these post in bite size pieces is probably the easiest way for the majority of Tumblrs. A nice picture entices the eyes, and upon clicking on a grid, you have descriptive text.

tumblr_static_8lerodor4z48cws0sww8g8g8

This also means you need to re-purpose your content. If your original content was a hard sell, you need to ante up on the graphics or pictures. Drop in a line or two that sounds cool (or not anything at all) and hashtag your post with the target in mind.

tumblr_static_lrg_quadrant

Tumblr can exist as its own as a company blog. I know there are a lot of companies who do not like to say too many things so a picture post every now and then as a company blog is fine.

You can still host your company website on a WordPress CMS but have a redirected link to your Tumblr blog post for all the latest happenings.

Sometimes just because you don’t have anything to say doesn’t mean you should leave your blog gathering dust. This is something that is happening to many corporate sites which are either brochure-ware or catalog based. When they have something new, they would have to put their corporate spiel onto it. So stop thinking of those keywords to convert customers and engage them through the visual senses.

Even a picture post every week on the things you do is probably going to do your company blog a lot of good now that Facebook pages is officially dead when it comes to eyeballs. Facebook engagement to your followers are in the region of 0.8 to 1 percent in 2015. Boosting your post might yield 16 percent. Organic growth remains at zero for Facebook pages.

This is why you should post to Tumblr, and have that same post carried on Facebook just for SEO purposes. It’s like killing two birds with one stone.

Facebook cripples Flipboard NewsFeeds

Flipboard_home

In another amazing twist of algorithm changes, Flipboard, the beloved newsfeed aggregator will be crippled by Facebook’s new algorithms by April 2015. The reason? Facebook wants you to see their adverts and there is no way of doing so within Flipboard itself.

Social Magazine no longer Social

Flipboard was one of the very first social/news aggregator that came out at the time of iPad 1, it was a hit and became a killer go-to app for the iPad. It wasn’t until two years later that Flipboard was introduced as an Android app on Samsung Galaxy devices before making its prime time debut on the Google Playstore.

Today, Flipboard is available even on Windows mobile and Web browser for all PCs. It has certainly gone a long way. Over the years, Flipboard added innovations such as the curated magazine, where you could literally curate and add content to your own social magazine which can then be shared with customers, friends or the public.

20121220-FLIPBOARD-NEXUS-018edit

 

Facebook’s Paper Versus Flipboard

Facebook released the Paper app on iOS over 2 years ago with Flipboard like news aggregation, except that it was more restrictive and didn’t allow you to add custom news channels.

Flipboard on the other hand allowed you to add your Facebook and G+ newsfeeds so that you don’t have to go to the dedicated apps to read your timeline updates. This meant that people could stop using Facebook app and turn to  Flipboard as the news reader for both social and news items, after all, Flipboard serves up its own ads while removing ad streams from Facebook. This became a huge problem as Facebook took this as a revenue leakage. So it had to plugged.

Starting late April, your Facebook account on Flipboard will only show up newsfeeds from Pages and Groups that you follow. Your personal newsfeed to the Flipboard will be crippled. Nothing will show up if you want to know who commented on your post or about friends who post stuff to your newsfeed. 

New user of Flipboard after April will not be able to add Facebook as a news channel even if it’s only for Groups and Pages you follow. This has been officially crippled so if you want to have some news from Facebook after May 2015, you better add your Facebook newsfeed to Flipboard now!

Facebook to get more Aggressive with Content Feed

 

flipboard1

Content is king. Facebook doesn’t create any so it has no way to keep you glued to their mobile app unless it’s about USG. All user generated content is free for use on Facebook, unless of course when it is copy protected music or movies, you can’t share them.

Content on Facebook is vaporous at best. There is no way to search out old news or postings from other users unless you have added that on your own timeline. This degrades the content aggregation possibilities within the Facebook app whereas on Flipboard, you can virtually read anything posted and flip that into your own social magazine for sharing later or for bookmarking purposes.

Facebook’s attempt with the Paper mobile app is probably the closest it gets to being a Flipboard wannabe, while it achieves some news aggregation, it still has to be shared onto your own timeline to be ‘logged’ and searchable. Sharing it is entirely up to you, you can do it publicly or with friends or family only.

So far, Facebook’s Paper app seems to be doomed to development hell. It has not made it’s debut worldwide or for that matter, outside of the iOS ecosystem. It has poor newsfeed refresh rates for curated news items and will face the same problem as Flipboard as content belonging to news agencies will have to paid for in some ways. Flipboard gets around this with a truncated content summary by asking you to hit the link to read more. Facebook’s Paper app is taking this same route but with less success, thanks largely to the limited curated feed approved by Facebook itself.

Facebook’s crippling of Flipboard’s newsfeed channels is not the end of it all. You can still curate and make your own social magazine and sharing that on Facebook. You can still post links to your Facebook account directly with the Flipboard app as well.

What annoys me most is that none of these news aggregators are paying for the content being carried on their news channels. Instead, they will try to reposition the content and sell adverts to support it, just like Flipboard does when you suddenly see an advert popping up midway through reading a content feed.

Content development is a thankless task and it’s kinda funny to see how these two duke it out with content they never paid a cent for but wants your eyeballs for it.

Chasing Google SEO: Mobile requirements Updated

responsive-web-design-wexford-rwd1

There was a recent update announcement to the Google algorithm and will go live in April and it has to do with being Mobile friendly. Let’s be fair, we were all expecting it to happen as Google has been kinda slow to implement and recognize the value in mobile web traffic. Best of all all, this update has  no secret name or handle for this new update, and you can view it here. The point of this update or revision is concerned with making your site responsive to mobile devices.

How your serve up content to mobile customers is the key to this revised algorithm. Looking at the prerequisites, it doesn’t seem to be much. But it will be a huge jump for those who have traditionally created only desktop type websites for their products and services.

This revised algorithm does not change what is already implemented in Google Hummingbird but builds upon it. So you will have points deducted once it recrawls your site to see if you are mobile friendly.

How Google Tweaks its Algorithms

The general public thinks that Google only tweaks the algorithm on a quarterly basis but in reality, only major changes are updated that way. Every month, the Google team takes a piece of code and takes it apart to better reflect its goal. Sometimes it works and other times it is very turbulent.

You can view the turbulence chart here at MozCast which is calculated on a monthly basis. For this, search engine results (SERPs) are monitored for changes and that’s how the chart comes about.

To be on top of the list, there are a few factors in which you are awarded page rank points. The rest is fair game. The mobile friendly requirement however seems to be more critical, as it will change the page rank of your site if found to be mobile un-responsive.

Responsive Web Design

more-app-engagement

Google is going out to woo mobile users. Web traffic for mobile site have increased dramatically over the years and the challenge is to pare down the desktop friendly site so it becomes usable without being a data bandwidth hog. These days, an average website landing page is definitely more than 1MB, this can be even up to 10MB at times and more for those with high graphic demands. Having a RWD site means the server CMS will scale down the data usage to meet mobile standards.

Responsive Web Design is more UX based, but Google has injected it’s own regulations to ensure your site is crawlable. To know if they think your site meets their approval, Google has its own crawlable test, which you can take here.

Mobile SEO Explained

viewport

One of the most pertinent issues are addressed in the new SEO update. The lesser ones, that concernslayout and single page dynamic content is not addressed. Part of the problem is that Google’s own engine isn’t that complex and much of what it does relies on content identification, URLs and linking. There are Schema requirements too, and this sort of optimization requires you to fire up your text editor and to add and tinker with code within the Theme of a CMS.

Much of Google’s new requirement fall into the following criteria:-

  • Speed of loading
  • Dynamic Serving of Pages
  • Keep Resources Crawlable by avoiding robot.txt usage
  • Deep Linking for App-only Accessible Content

Like it or not, if you don’t have any HTML knowledge, you better let someone else do it for you. A CSS sheet, with HTML code is a massive page of text which only the geek in us can decipher. Knowing where to enter the schema friendly code takes some knowledge and please don’t do it unless you know what you are doing. Simple mistakes like using an opening <center> and not closing it with a </center> tag can throw up rendering errors for your theme or page.

This makes things difficult as bug hunting can take hours or days depending on how you approach the problem.

Ranking and the new Mobile SEO

Design wise, Google offers no clues. Should your mobile site conform with page layout requirements like in a desktop websites? I have no idea but this is probably a gray area that Google has not been addressing.

Content has to be crawled. This means that for every link you put up that links to some kind of content, it has to be mobile friendly or else you will get booted off the rankings. Faulty links will be penalized so you have to pay attention to how your site responds to mobile users.

faulty-redirects

Should I be Chasing the Page Rank or just make it Mobile SEO friendly?

dotmobility

When you look at the turbulent state of Google’s Algorithm each time they tweak it, found on Mozcast, you’d realize that the finer points of Page ranks is often fought with a team of full time army of people which many of your have no access to. Every month, Google engineers will implement new tweaks and in the process affect your placing on SERPs. As long as you follow the fundamental requirements, your only other hope is to have a unique branding of content, socially active on social media and refined your site with RWD.

You must not forget that since Hummingbird came into play, the new algorithm is tuned to look out for content that is shared and provide useful information for its users. RWD is there to help your site when Google detects its searches made through a mobile browser and will offer to serve up only RWD sites first.

Google’s main aim is to allow Google Voice Search to do the searching for you in mobile, and as long as you have very thin written content, that in itself will affect your ranking. So if your content consist of mainly graphics, images or video, the only hope for you to reach the top SERP rankings is boost it through social sharing and usage.

No website will completely meet the requirements of Google’s Hummingbird and constant algorithm changes, what you lack, you can make up for it in other areas and chasing the elusive prime spot on SERPS for your product or service category can be better achieved with the use of Google ads. Cheaper too if that is what you are after.

How Twitter turned Nazi on Coke’s Campaign

hitler-with-coke

When it comes to creating content, the last thing you should do is to use an automated bot. A bot is a term for a robot, which of course is just some dumb waiter in this instance. In the case of Coca Cola, they were on the receiving end of the joke when Gawker themselves started a bot to counter the #MakeItHappy hashtag used by Coke.

hitlerxcoke

People using this quote will have the chance of getting a lovely ASCII graphic as long as it was tweeted with the #MakeItHappy hashtag. So this was Coke’s way to spread some love and happiness in the time of ISIL and the burning pilot trapped in a cage. The quoted text below sums up the experience.

Coca cola started a new Make It Happy campaign during the SuperBowl TV spots and didn’t know the consequence of using Twitter hashtags. As part of Coke’s ad campaign, it allowed people to reply to tweets with the hashtag #MakeItHappy, which would prompt the @CocaCola account to automatically take that tweet and spit it back out as fun ASCII art.

This basically sums up the use of bots. If you fail to employ a full time human staff to man your content feed, then you’re looking for trouble. In Gawker’s case, they wanted to prove a point that having a Bot manage your content feed is a bad idea. All they had to do was insert lines from Hitler’s infamous book “Mein Kampf” and use the hashtags to lure the Coke Bot to pick it up and this can happen to anyone. The quoted text will appear as a happy ASCII art as seen below.

gawker-1

Why Content Has to be Managed

You learn the hard way that you have competitors and they are out to destroy you in the most creative way. In the case of Coke, a rival like Pepsi could hire someone to hijack the campaign. Even though any publicity isn’t bad publicity, in this case it gave Coca Cola a boost in the social sphere, things could have turned out far worst for SMBs who do something which can tarnish their long term marketing objective.

Coke pulled the campaign, Gawker laughed so hard and yes. You have to be-careful when using Twitter.

Hashtags have become a way of life in content promotion. You find a unique hashtag and try to own it by using it. The NYPD also had a campaign which backfired. It started a #myNYPD campaign to show how citizen friendly they were and got a slew of citizen photos showing otherwise. Then it was made into a joke which put the NYPD in a very hard spot.

mynypd

Twitter for the Rest of Us

Twitter is a two way street. It is sort of like a bulletin board of sorts where people can reach out to you and it works particularly well for brands, celebrities and politicians. If you wanted to reach out to someone directly, he or she may respond to you in Tweets. The whole process then helps you to communicate with entities you do not normally have the chance to. This power to the people scenario is also open to abuse. Twitter is severely limiting to those who can’t sell something in 140 characters. Using a URL embed is the only way but to get people clicking on that URL is also a shot in the dark. Twitter has made it clear that it aims to clamp down on spam and post abuse but so far, they have been slow in responding.

As with all social media platforms, Twitter allows you to shore up your followers with lots of buy-in fake followers, take promotional adverts to promote your content on the platform and use it for content marketing. What they don’t tell you is that organic growth has been spiralling down and is only a tad higher than Facebook’s zero percent organic reach.

The platform has been moving away from its text based roots and is now openly supporting picture post and later, video post as well. Twitter has no choice but to do this as it has to secure the eyeballs instead of letting people exit the platform to view something on YouTube or a third party video host. In the past, they have blamed iOS 8 failures and broken mobile apps that costed them millions of users.

However I am not particularly sold on Twitter is that after experimenting on it, I realise that the ambiguity that is often associated with it is what makes people abuse the platform. For one, it rarely ever reaches out to the masses unless you happen to use a ‘pop’ hashtag. These are the trending hashtags that Twitter tells you about in your dashboard. You have to craft your content to fit the moment instead of relying on your own unique hashtag to take off. Its like riding a popularity wave, once it dies down, you find the next hashtag wave to ride on. It’s a bit like surfing, where you wait for the right wave to ride on. So for example you can add a Tweet to ride on Coke’s  #MakeItHappy trending tag and add #hireMyWhore at Men’s Health Spa.

I have seen Bots that are programmed to work as a spamming tool by inserting bit.ly URLS into a reply to your tweets and then sends you to a spam site upon clicking on it. Thanks to Twitter’s method of restricting your characters, people often are not sure if the given URL is a genuine reply or a spam link.

In the case of Coca Cola, they started this off without much thought and didn’t plan on responding  that someone hijack their campaign, this undermined their online credibility. By having a human process to moderate the replies, spam and abuse can be checked but this is far too costly for a industrial giant that pulls in billions in global revenue every year.

This is where content marketing gets expensive for corporate use. People have to be assigned as moderators while for SMBs, you just have to monitor this on your own time. Imagine if you’re out fishing for the weekend and constantly fighting spam on your hashtag on your mobile. That’s the reality for the rest of us.

How Twitter can Work for You

As a communication channel to your business, it has to be manned 24/7 and this where you tell customers to follow you for updates. You can of course insert marketing or promotional content but often the character limitations will leave your followers guessing. This is why people make use of picture post as a marketing lure. In the case of Coke, the happy ASCII picture was the lure for people to jump onto the hashtag wagon.

gawker-2

Instead of just tweeting pictures, you should consider using Twitter for the following:-

  • Content updates to your Followers on Social Media.
  • Promotional updates to your site
  • Sharing of curated content using shortened URLS to your followers
  • Feedback and Contact channel for customer/product satisfaction

It makes no sense to acquire users on Twitter unless your targeted audience are also frequent users of the social channel. Such acquisitions are a miss-miss affair. Remember the hashtag rule. If the brand isn’t yours then there is no point pouring money into it in the hope it will go viral.

So before you embark on any content marketing campaign, think about the strategy behind it first and follow through on it. Murphy’s Law is all about consequences on things that can go wrong and for social media, there are heaps.