How Facebook is spamming you…on your Newsfeed

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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

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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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Facebook wants you to Double Down on Instant Articles

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Come April, the F8 conference will bring news on how Facebook will partner with WordPress to channel a curated list of content called Instant Articles which you can use on your Facebook page.

As a content creator, you are not going to get advertising payment from FB or WordPress for this but it is for ‘self promotion’.

I know, the terms has been abused with much amusement to the point it isn’t funny anymore. Content creation is hard work but people at Facebook think they have a right to pillage your content, give it to others who in turn pay Facebook to boost their post.

Why Facebook Page Post is in Trouble

Think about it. You have to scrap content from a site, mask it as your own and pay Facebook to boost that post to your followers.

Too much work.

So what better way to do this than to get a free newsfeed from Facebook, that is curated and approved by Zuckerberg himself, and then just pay him for boosting that content to your Page followers so that they would stick around.

It has become apparent that FB Page reach has tumbled to all time lows of 2 percent in 2015, but in 2016, it might go all the way to zero.

How does Facebook Instant Articles Work?

First you need a WordPress CMS with WordPress’ Automattic plugin enabled for your blog.

Got that up and running? No sweat.

Then you have to download and install the Instant Article Plugin which is only available from WordPress after April 8, 2016. It won’t be available before this date.

Once you have both installed on your blog, you need to enable and notify Facebook HQ of your willingness to allow your content to be prostituted for free in exchange for eyeballs. This can be done from your FB Page settings.

You will NOT be paid any commission for this. If you already have a WordPress site linked to your FB profile, you still cannot specify it for use only for your FB Page only.

When you apply to submit your content feed to Facebook,  the Facebook folks will go through your blog to see it fits their submission criteria, and contain no extreme stuff like Dump the Trump cartoons or ISIL rhetoric. Once you make it on the green list. You are literally syndicated to everyone who has a FB Page.

All means a helluva lot of cheap people who have no idea for content will reuse your content.

What Automattic does is that your content will be formatted to fit mobile screens on Facebook Pages. In other words, it’s a form of content scrapping which you readily submit to. It is a bit like public floggings but with your approval.

Facebook Content Marketing with your Content

Your content, when you agree to the Facebook terms, remains yours but everyone else will be free to use it.

Would it benefit you? Only you believe if whoring your life’s work is kosher.

The possibilities are endless. People will have great content from your hard work while none of the ads you put up will ever appear on the Facebook Page that uses it.

Sounds like a sham doesn’t it?

I think so too.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Microsoft fluffs its Content App Sprightly

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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.

 

Epic fails on Content Creation for Facebook Post

 

“Good content always has an objective; it’s created with intent. It therefore carries triggers to action.”

It is no secret that Facebook seems to be the place every brand wants to get into especially when it comes to eyeballs. Every time you send out a post from your page to followers it only gets a 1 percent organic reach. The one percent organic reach is for pictures and links. Video on the other hand gets you more, maybe to the tune of 4 percent in a day.

Facebook defines organic reach in terms of unpaid post that pops up on your newsfeed. This means that you may have a truckload of followers but they won’t see your post unless you paid Facebook to reach out to them.

During my 2 year observation on Facebook post, I run a page which I use to obtain metrics. I have managed to get a 10 percent reach in two days using a very sly method of commenting on other Page post using my Page persona. This is very hard work and for a 10 week old post, I am able to hit a 50 percent reach of my followers.

Recently I took the global car brand from BMW to task.

Obviously they haven’t a clue on what works and I told them to create content when posting instead of just putting up a picture.

Engagement counts to each Posting 

When you post a picture, like the above, telling followers hey, custom job for you mini, why not do this? Then the picture stands alone, without a link or a FB content, then you are in trouble.

Facebook measures each post with an engagement. So if people liked it and clicked on it, then it gets shown to more unpaid followers. This grows and grows but it tops off at 50 percent. When people leave comments on it, it also gets circulated around for longer period. And this is what creating meaningful content is all about.

Brands who are not serious about this should only post pictures only content to Twitter, Pinterest or Instagram. Pinterest is a bit iffy here as its quite nebulous. People collect pins which are pictures with content links but you don’t know if they get viral like herpes when you pass it around. Once you take into account that females like Pinterest more, then you could have more gender specific content created.

Brands like Mini should know this. If they give ideas to people with no wear to start, then it is useless. The picture stops there and without the content to keep it going, it dies. The top picture illustrates this.

Mini should ask itself what the picture is suppose to generate. Eyeballs, likes or Clicks?

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  • There is no URL to lead to a content page but the picture entices you.
  • The introduction creates a expectation that you can get a custom job.
  • It ends with a question, “how would you customise your MINI” without even telling people how it can be done.

This is why brands must have partners.

For the above Mini campaign, it makes sense for Mini to partner Avery Dennison for car related vinyl wraps or Dupont Standox for a full custom paint job.

Once the content is created, both Avery Dennison and Mini can share in the Facebook post, giving the content a longer life span instead of a one off, emotional Like on a page. Facebook isn’t Instagram and vice versa. If your goal is to get people to like the image, then it is in the wrong place. The FB Page algorithm has already killed it for you whereas for Instagram, there is still a chance of getting unpaid eyeballs if the person is already following your Instagram page.

The Difference in Gaining Followers versus Boosting Post

Thanks to the money grubbing ways of Zuckerberg, you have to differentiate between paying for new followers or just reaching out to existing followers.

Reaching out to existing followers of your FB page is through boosting your Post, while gaining new followers is like putting up Ads for your Page to attract new followers. Both are very different and you should never confuse the two.

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Boosting a page is crucial if you want to get content out to the open for all to see. But gaining followers is just the act of getting people to Like your page, and hopefully in the process, get them to subscribe to ALL your notifications. This is secretly hidden away within the Like button and by people who Like your Page doesn’t mean they will get all your notification on content. This is a secret that Facebook doesn’t want to share with you. If you knew how many were subscribed to your Content notifications, you won’t be paying FB to show it to your followers.

This is why it is important for Brands to reward followers with physical items. It could be a keychain, a unique sticker or even a goodie bag.

 

Good Content means a Long Shelf Life

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In difficult economic environments, the first thing big brand budgets get cut are those in advertising. It makes sense because like brand advertising, no one is going to notice when the economy faces difficulties. Selling to a exhausted market is like selling ice boxes to eskimos. This is where meaningful content comes in because of its long tail nature.

Useful content gets recycled and used for a very long time. And for Facebook post, this is perfect. It is a slow burn process. Since Facebook algorithms work in the way that you only pay for what you are getting, it makes perfect sense to engage people with such post if you don’t intend to pay for them.

What’s more I am all for featuring unique content.

People are not going to be grateful if the SAME content they see appears in their Twitter, Facebook and Instagram feeds. This is another bad habit that Brands do partake in.

For the follower, what good is it to follow your favourite brand page on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram when they see the same stuff all the time? Makes no sense. Followers could just subscribe to just one and leave the rest out. But here, you need them to follow you because….you have unique content for each social stream.

On Facebook alone, you need to have at least 35 content Likes or Comment Engagements before Facebook gives you another 1 percent organic (unpaid) reach. This is a tough proposition.

So when it comes to a bull market, advertise. In a bear market, you create content with a long shelf life. That way, you brand stays in shape for the long haul and when the bulls come around again, you have your long tail content to thank. People will remember the brand and that’s what counts.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Twitter doubles down on UGC with Moments

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One of the conundrums of content development is that social networks don’t own them. Content is mostly user generated and passed around like herpes for what it is worth and when Twitter launched Moments in the USA, it has got to be some mistake.

I have avoided writing about Moments from Twitter for the longest time as I watched the announcement live on Periscope some time back. All I wanted to know is why now?

Twitter is for conversations. It has no content to offer except maybe a link to the content site.

Social conversations that are limited to just 140 characters is probably more Neanderthal than social. What Twitter does well is to give us a voice to reach out to those who have one. We don’t have a voice being a nobody but somebody with fame and influence could be of help.

This is why Moments just doesn’t make sense.

I know how Periscope fits into the whole scheme of things for Twitter and how Vine is half assing its usefulness with those short clips but the point is still Moments is pretty odd. It’s like going to a Mexican restaurant to order Chinese food. People have used social networks like Facebook and G+ for content distribution but when Twitter gets into the act….you sort of question the wisdom behind it.

What Moments is All About

In short, it is trending content on the news. Say that there is a big fire on the East coast of America, and people want to know more about it, that’s probably the one that fits the bill but to curate content for users to have a conversation is really out of place.

Twitter wants to provide the goto content you want to hear about with Moments. It wants your eyeballs and your voice. They want you to retweet about it. It wants you to discuss content in the news, and to that effect curate meaningful content that affects you.

For a start, Moments will have two centers for curation. One each on the East and West coast of America. It is not global as yet and as much as people want that to happen, Twitter prefers not to hire more heads but to focus on getting a UGC algorithm in place so that they don’t have to use a team of people all over the world. Right now, that algorithm isn’t yet working….but the idea behind project lighting is.

So if the news and users are trending a subject, say Elon Musk jumping off the San Francisco bridge to highlight his ailing Tesla car business, the underpinning interest would be decided by the content curators who feel that you should know about this and for some reason talk about it online. Once you do, then they have secured the eyeballs necessary to serve you some ads.

That’s the whole point of it. Moments is integrated right into the Twitter app so there is no need to have a secondary app installed to receive the curated content.

Will Moments work for You?

To be more precise, Moments aims to scrap treading content from news networks and if you are just running a blog, chances are you won’t be featured.

There is no reason to feature some Joe Blow who writes a rant on his blog on a product review. Such content has no merits.

But if you care to troll the news, you would realize that there is a lot of noise and unsubstantiated content coming from the likes of CNN, Washington Post and even the New York Times. So what constitute as credible news these days is pretty subjective.

Then you have breaking news where big name media companies do not have a correspondent in place to tackle the news and what you get are repeats from off media sources mentioned everywhere else.

Twitter can be used successfully to maintain contact with your customers and to get feedback on how you are doing. Some use it to start a war of words with detractors while others just talk about how bad Nicki Minaj was at the awards show.

For me, running an active Twitter feed is a lot of work. Stats for readership are pretty low for each post if you’re not famous or intelligible with 140 characters.

So don’t put any hope into Moments for it to change how do business online or in real time.

The truth of the matter is that Twitter is running out of ideas for innovation and since it’s platform is conversational, they are hoping you would put in your two tweets worth for all the curated news you read on Twitter Moments. Maybe someone will read them, respond to it and that would get those eyeballs Twitter wants to show ads to?

Time to Dump the Facebook App!

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Finally, you can junk your space hogging Facebook app once and for all on Android and iOS.

For the longet time, I detested the app for being a storage and RAM hog as it still to pile on all those extra features. When FB finally spun off Messenger as a separate app, the FB app didn’t quite slim down either. So I dumped it and resorted to using the mobile web access on my chrome browser.

Previously, the downside of using chrome browser access to your FB profile was that you can’t get any notifications. But as of today, the browser access for FB has been revamped, and you can now get notifications from friends and family who you are following just like the desktop version. Mobile browsers such as Chrome and Firefox are supported and these browsers would request for permission to send notifications to you. All you have to do is click YES, and you now have full FB access to all the notifications that appear on your feed.

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This new feature officially makes the FB mobile app totally redundant.

One of the caveats of using Facebook mobile app is that you can’t get any virtual translation when the post is written in a foreign language. So you probably had to guess what your foreign friends are talking about provided you were psychic.

The FB app just didn’t make any real sense since the FB mobile site can jump through far more hoops than the mobile app could.

So from now on, all you have to do is log in to your FB profile using Chrome browser, and confirm the status when FB ask you if you wish to receive notifications from the browser and you have hit a home run.

What you get on the mobile web site is precisely what you get on a desktop browser, so saving a few megabytes of space would be worthwhile if you had an older smartphone with limited memory. Device owners who have only 1GB of RAM available should be able to free up some valuable space in light of this.

To keep the browser based notifications on, you only need to allow the browser that is logged into the FB account running in the background.