Instagram: Now everyone can post in Landscape

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In a highly anticipated move to allow you to advertise, Instagram goes live with Landscape pictures as of well today!

Weeks ago, the Facebook owned picture posting network decided to do away with the limited advertising potential via direct dealings and open the flood gates for just about anyone to advertise. Unfortunately at this stage, you can only do so using selected Instagram partners to do this. More on this on a later date.

Landscape isn’t new. Some apps on both Playstore and Appstore allowed you to crop photos which are in landscape to fit Instagram’s square frame. What you lose however is the extra spaces between the picture and the square frame and that wasn’t ideal. Even by all accounts, having the photos enlarged, the old square frame of 640 pixels square wasn’t going to yield a better picture up close. This was probably why they decided to ditch the lower resolution for mid resolution pictures recently.


Now that ads will appear on your home feed, Instagram feels that you should be able to dump the Square format pictures and post in landscape as well.

When Instagram was first launched on iOS, it was a homage of sorts to the Polaroid SX-70’s square format pictures that won the hearts of consumers in the 70s. Dr, Edwin Land, inventor of the polarising lens and instant picture camera thought that it would be easier for people to compose pictures in a square format instead of a landscape format. He had, at that time, other cameras that could capture pictures in landscape using a peel away instant film. So to discourage people from throwing away the peels, he decided to redesign the system by making the camera smaller which produced the square format pictures without the peel away layer.

Instagram experienced a mutiny of sorts during the last revision, that was to introduce an Android app. Stalwarts barked and left the network as they had perceived Instagram was diluting its user base to include unworthy Android users.

This elitist exodus was welcomed into other picture sharing communities that eventually failed. Needless to say Instagram won its day.

How Landscape Changes your Post

It does change the way you create a picture but that doesn’t mean it will kill your audience. Instagram’s last big change was from its 640 pixel square to a 1000 pixel square. It didn’t impact people much since it is after all still a square picture. What it gave was a better resolution picture and this incremental change in picture resolution paved the way for landscape pictures. This however does not in any way give you a bigger picture in Landscape mode. There is no way to pinch and zoom to admire the details in Instagram so you would do well to avoid having tiny details in your landscape pictures which have been seen up close to be admired.

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The change to landscape mode for picture taking will be off putting at first because of how you need to hold the camera. By tipping the camera on its side, you need to have a steady hold on your camera while using your thumb to hit the shutter button. Whereas in portrait mode, you can hold the device as you would normally do capture a square picture.

For smartphone photographers who already capture using landscape mode, this isn’t going to be a big deal.

For content creators who wish to stamp their mark on their photos, you could of course capture landscape photos and within it, put your own social message.

Landscape images are ideal for such scribblings as there is sufficient space to add your two cents worth to the image content. Done artistically, it has its merits. You can still post in square format if you so wish but landscape is far more interesting for content developers like myself.

At the present moment, there is no hidden algorithm to hide post from your friends or people you follow. This could be adjust in view of the potential of those adverts I was talking about earlier. If you follow a lot of people, there will be a lot of post on your timeline. Once this happens, there would be a deluge…a problem that is being observed in G+. Instagram will have to find its own way around this.

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Facebook cripples Flipboard NewsFeeds

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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.

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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

 

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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.

Facebook revises Newsfeed: No more Brand Spam?

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Facebook has been in the news for all the wrong reasons but lately, they have come out to support content with a revised Newsfeed Algorithm that takes a swipe at brands who spam.

From now on, Brands who wish to engage their customers through Facebook’s Pages will have to ante up on the moolah. In an apparent move to emulate Google’s Hummingbird, Facebook’s own Analytics will pay more attention to original content instead of the usual nonsense being passed around as Branded Spam.

The whole idea isn’t new but the analytics seems to be a bit Neanderthal. For example, if your friend ‘likes” a content feed, then it will appear on your newsfeed. The new analytics will also monitor  comments made by friends so that it will show up more prominently and more regularly so you could be seeing the same story on the top of your newsfeed as more of your friends start to comment on them. Facebook’s own analytics do not for example analyse the content in the same way as Hummingbird does in Google searches.

Facebook’s has this to say about the revised newsfeed algorithm:-

Our surveys show that on average people prefer links to high quality articles about current events, their favorite sports team or shared interests, to the latest meme. Starting soon, we’ll be doing a better job of distinguishing between a high quality article on a website versus a meme photo hosted somewhere other than Facebook when people click on those stories on mobile. This means that high quality articles you or others read may show up a bit more prominently in your News Feed, and meme photos may show up a bit less prominently.

Creating Engaging Content 

This is probably the tough one for Brands. Facebook doesn’t like giving out freebies to commercial entities and will be watching your Pages with the revised analytics. Apparently it will take your post down a few notches so as to challenge you to come out with better content. Now what makes for better brand content? Facebook is looking for some form of social engagement so that should give you an idea on what to expect.

DisplayMediaBrands who want to see their post up on all their fan’s newsfeed will have to pay for the privilege. Facebook isn’t too keen to let you off the hook so easily as it hopes to bump up its stock price on the NYSE.

If the average person has about 100 friends who are active on Facebook, you could be seeing a whole lot of content from them instead of the Brand marketing stuff one has come to expect from the past.

Brand engagement will be more expensive on the long run and there is no alternative.

What about camping out on G+?

Probably a better place to start but that doesn’t mean you can jump ship and hope your fans will follow you to Google. At the moment, Google is still beefing up its social platform but it is free for all for the moment. You can post anything you like and as long as the person has circled you as a follower, you can expect a lively newsfeed.

New-Google-logoGoing forward, Google will eventually make G+ a paying social platform. Right now, there are no ads as yet but it will come eventually. It’s just a question of time before this happens.