Sam Harrelson

What to do about the end of auto-sharing to Facebook profiles and creating episodic social media content

If you auto-share items from your site to Facebook (blog posts for example), you’ll want to take note of the big changes coming this week.

Many people, nonprofits, small businesses, churches etc use the built-in social media auto-sharing features on platforms such as WordPress or Squarespace or Wix or Weebly etc to share content to Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram profiles without much fuss.

However, Facebook is removing that ability for posting to a profile on August 1. This particularly impacts smaller businesses or a nonprofit that are smaller since it’s affecting Profiles, not Pages. But if you have been using auto-share to a WordPress profile, you’re going to have to do that manually now.

Here’s part of WordPress’ notice about it:

Starting August 1, 2018, Facebook is making a change to their platform: third-party tools can no longer automatically share posts to Facebook Profiles. This includes Publicize. If you’ve connected a Facebook Profile to your site, then Publicize will no longer be able to share your new posts to Facebook automatically. Sharing to Facebook Pages will continue to work as before.

Source: Publicize — Support — WordPress.com

Note that if you are auto-sharing to a Facebook Page (rather than a Profile… usually Pages are associated with businesses or groups and Profiles are individuals), you’ll still be able to continue to do that after August 1.

There are good security reasons why Facebook is making this change in light of the Cambridge Analytica fallout as well as the general cultural perception that Facebook is overrun with “fake news”. However, there’s also a clear self-serving reason for making this change as this post from Buffer points out:

Facebook seems very keen to encourage more users to share content and counter the decline of user-generated posts.

For example, its recent focus on Stories and Groups could be seen as a way to encourage more unique content. This, coupled with the “meaningful interactions” update, shows that Facebook might be hoping that more unique content shared by users, reaching more of their closest friends and family will help to spark more conversation and interaction on the platform.

Source: How Facebook Marketing is Changing (And How to Be Prepared) – Buffer

Buffer is a leading service in the social media sharing space. They allow for easy scheduling of posts to a variety of networks and are used frequently by businesses and nonprofits of all shapes and sizes. We’ve used them extensively with clients over the years as well.

However, the social media landscape continues to evolve since it became a major part of most people’s “online” lives over the last decade as well as a viable marketing and advertising channel.

I’ve always been hesitant about overusing auto-sharing services and blasting out the same content to every network as if they were all the same. Twitter, when used well, generates a very unique “culture” around a brand, business, or church. Facebook also has a unique community around content that will take even more of a front seat with the renewed push on “personal sharing” from the company. The same can be said about Instagram. The trick is to know your audience and be aware of the particularities of each of the social networks you’re pushing content to. You can’t treat a Facebook Live video the same as an Instagram Story or a Twitter Moment.

Additionally, Facebook Pages have taken a number of algorithmic hits over the last few years and I’ve personally had clients walk away from the platform because the ROI just wasn’t there. It’s not as simple as pushing “Publish” and walking away to let the magic happen these days.

Whether you’re using a Page or your own Profile to promote your cause, now is a good time to step back and re-examine how and why you share content and how you share content on any social network. I like to create social media calendars for our clients to help keep a more scheduled approach to content generation and sharing and to keep us from falling into the easy trap of blasting out the same content to every network at once.

Along with the calendar and schedule, I like to promote the idea of generating social media content in an episodic nature. The Netflix example is often used here to explain that people go to the service over and over to watch content they have become connected to in some way. “Binge watching” is not just about devouring a season of a TV show in one sitting, but is a psychological relationship that a person establishes with a certain brand of a show. Netflix doesn’t make its money from people passively watching movies or shows that are rolled out in a pre-programmed schedule with advertisements every 4-6 minutes. Instead, Netflix understands the psychology behind creating a connection between a person and their very interest-specific content.

In the same way, I like to promote the notion that social media content from a business, church, or nonprofit can and should tap into that same “episodic” mindset. Get your fans (no matter the size of your audience) on a regular schedule of Facebook Live events, Twitter AMA’s, Instagram Live Q/A’s, Facebook Page Pics of the Week etc… and don’t forget your weekly email newsletters on Tuesday or Thursday and your new podcast episodes every Monday.




Improving Twitter in 2018?

Dave Winer:

1. Eliminate the character limit, allow for linking, simple styles, titles and enclosures (for podcasting). The move to 280 chars was so successful, that should be a clue. Remove the barriers to expression and let the whole web in via linking. Handle length the way Facebook does with a see more link. It’s good prior art.

— Read on scripting.com/2018/07/22/155344.html

I remember having a conversation with Tris Hussey over breakfast at some conference or other in early 2007 where we discussed Twitter and its future possibilities. I was convinced at the time that Twitter would go on to see the light and open itself up as a protocol for the internet to facilitate public micro-messaging, similar to what IMAP and POP were for email. I was wrong, of course. Twitter actually reversed course from its early openness with developers and a flexible API and shifted towards the advertising platform model around 2009 as it sought out a way to monetize the service.

I’m still an avid user of Twitter, much more so than Facebook, ten years later. I remember the early talks and discussions about the need for more editing features and the ability to post longer entries and I always thought that was antithetical to what Twitter was. I still think that’s the case (think Old Man Yelling At the Clouds). What makes Twitter such an interesting and valuable platform for news and social interaction to me in 2018 is the brevity of content. Going from 140 characters to 280 characters is less of a paradigm shift and more of a realization that the perception of too much information density has changed in the post-SMS messaging world. Whereas a long text message was seen as rude and inconsiderate in 2007, a long iMessage is considered the norm in 2018.

So, I have to disagree with Dave here on his point that Twitter should eliminate the character limit and promote features such as styles, titles, and even enclosures. What makes Twitter so unique in a world of Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, YouTube, FaceTime, Signal, WeChat etc is the constraint of expression. People use Signal for privacy. We use Snapchat for its ephemeral and whimsical nature. Instagram is how we share visuals. Twitter is how we share quick thoughts.

We have blogs for the other features that Dave mentions here. Open the API’s and get the app developers back on board if we want to Make Twitter Great Again.




R.I.P. Stumbleupon

Stumbleupon was one of those services that I loved to talk about on my blog or during a conference presentation back in the ’00s when describing the glorious democratized future that web2.0 would bring us. Twitter was still a texting service called twttr and Facebook was still at Harvard. You could edit the CSS on your MySpace page and make your profile ugly. We all had blogrolls. Forums still mattered and mods were there to keep the conversation in line. It was a fun and engaging period of time to be on the web. Unfortunately, things didn’t go as I thought they would and here we are in the Digital Dark Age of commodified social interactions and proprietary human farms built on the back of unmoderated advertising based on avarice and attention.

I wasn’t a particularly heavy user of Stumbleupon, but it was a fun service that helped me discover quite a few sites and resources over the years. I’m sad to see it go.

But now there’s no more of Stumbleupon’s pure, unadulterated content. All we have is angst-filled social media with a new monster around every corner. Sad stumbling through the interwebs now, everyone. Sad stumbling and watch your step.

Source: Stumbleupon died right when we needed it the most




Bring Back RSS

I’m admittedly from a generation that grew up with a web that didn’t include Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or even Google. I look back fondly on the early 2000’s when we all had our own blogs and shared thoughts and pictures and quotes there.

I was just reminiscing about blogrolls this week with a client as we reminded ourselves about the joy of finding new and interesting people to subscribe to because of a link on a blog that we liked. Of course, there was Blogger and Live Journal and then Flickr and the rise of Google and MySpace and eventually Twitter and Facebook arrived in 2006. But for a while, it was a magical time not ruled over by corporate content silos… in my mind at least.

That’s a major reason why I still blog and share thoughts and links here. I’m not going to convert anyone but maybe I’ll share some of that old time religion. There’s incredible freedom and a sense of adventure to having your “own” site. Try it, rather than just relying on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.

Fun read here:

“For those of you born into the siloed world of the centralised web, RSS is an ancient technology from Web 1.0 (“the naïve Web?”). Like most things back then, it does what it says on the tin: it enables you to easily syndicate the content of your site. People interested in following your posts subscribe to your feed and receive updates using their RSS readers. There is no Twitter or Facebook in the middle to algorithmically censor … ahem … “curate” your posts.”

Via on Aral Balkan’s blog




Churches and Social Media

Some good points in this post regarding churches using social media as outreach, particularly for youth. It’s important to keep in mind the “how’s” and “why’s” and “where’s” of different age groups and social media use as well.

I tell my clients all the time that just like we don’t all listen to music or watch “TV” the same (in the Spotify, Netflix, and Hulu age), we all don’t use social media for the same reason to accomplish the same things. Not to mention the often overlooked variable of geography and place when using social media. Churches really need to think through their approaches and goals with these in mind.

Setting up an Instagram account is easy. Using it in a way that authentically tells your story and engages current members is tough. Figuring out if its targeted towards youth or adults and why that matters is even more difficult. Don’t put all of that responsibility on a youth minister or Associate Pastor in this age of data-driven accountability.

So do the math and don’t believe in “build it and they will come.” That philosophy might have worked for ballparks in the middle of Iowa to attract the ghosts of the past, but it won’t work to attract engagement with very socially alive people in 2018 and beyond.

“I encourage you to count the cost,” Carey said. “It’s going to take time and effort to do this.”

Churches and ministries also must focus on storytelling to foster relationships between viewers and churches.

— Read on baptistnews.com/article/churches-must-count-the-cost-of-pursuing-youth-on-social-media/




Facebook ads prices are too high and companies are shifting to Instagram

The impression-based market on Facebook ads haven’t resulted in a solid and stable pricing model for most direct-to-consumer companies (or nonprofits, churches, community groups etc). The targeting capabilities are exciting, but the pricing costs for ads have to match up with the returns.

So now we’re all flocking to Instagram Stories…

Digiday spoke with 10 direct-to-consumer companies, and all of them report their marketing mix has de-emphasized Facebook for other digital alternatives — including Facebook-owned Instagram — but seven of them also say they are expanding into traditional vehicles. The reason: Prices are getting high for audience segments and the feed has become a very cluttered space.

— Read on digiday.com/marketing/pivot-traditional-direct-consumer-brands-sour-facebook-ads/




Teens Have Officially Moved Beyond Facebook

Wow, these stats are really quite something. Facebook dominates the social media landscape for older Americans, but teens have moved on to YouTube, Instagram, and Snapchat over the last 3-4 years.

Astonishing changes in usage percentages and something Facebook, and marketers, should really be concerned about (yes, Instagram is owned by Facebook but the Newsfeed is still the bulk of $$ for Facebook).

It’s hard to earn back users once young people start leaving, as Friendster and MySpace found out.

The social media landscape in which teens reside looks markedly different than it did as recently as three years ago. In the Center’s 2014-2015 survey of teen social media use, 71% of teens reported being Facebook users. No other platform was used by a clear majority of teens at the time: Around half (52%) of teens said they used Instagram, while 41% reported using Snapchat.

In 2018, three online platforms other than Facebook – YouTube, Instagram and Snapchat – are used by sizable majorities of this age group. Meanwhile, 51% of teens now say they use Facebook. The shares of teens who use Twitter and Tumblr are largely comparable to the shares who did so in the 2014-2015 survey.

Source: Teens, Social Media & Technology 2018 | Pew Research Center




How Instagram’s algorithm works

My clients often don’t realize that Facebook, Instagram or Twitter place content directly in front of users eyeballs based on when things are posted.

We live in the “attention” era and you have to not only produce worthwhile content to get noticed but also maintain interest and relationship.

Three main factors determine what you see in your Instagram feed:

Interest: How much Instagram predicts you’ll care about a post, with higher ranking for what matters to you, determined by past behavior on similar content and potentially machine vision analyzing the actual content of the post.

Recency: How recently the post was shared, with prioritization for timely posts over weeks-old ones.

Relationship: How close you are to the person who shared it, with higher ranking for people you’ve interacted with a lot in the past on Instagram, such as by commenting on their posts or being tagged together in photos.

Source: How Instagram’s algorithm works | TechCrunch




Owning your own platform is important, and valuable

I often get the question from clients of why I mostly recommend having your own website on WordPress or a self-hosted platform in the age of Facebook. As companies who built their businesses and traffic flow on the back of Facebook over the years have found out, that can be a very precarious decision. Audience and perceived impact are good, but long-term value is much better. Don’t cheap out and build your house on someone else’s property.

For instance, Medium is an interesting platform for bloggers and writers. We see everyone from politicians to celebrities to tech pundits using it as the place of record for their writings. While there is an audience there, or on Facebook, we’re already seeing Medium making changes to the way it handles its publishers in an attempt to figure out monetization (something which its founder Ev Williams knows about since he also founded Blogger and then went on to co-start Twitter… both of which faced their own monetization issues). This is going to be a constant and something you or your business or your non-profit should take notice of before you let your roots get too deep in a particular platform can change its EULA at any time.

Owen Williams writes the excellent Charged newsletter (you should subscribe) and makes this point about Medium, Facebook, and web presence in general that I highly agree with:

All of this is to say: Medium is great, but be wary! Owning your own platform is important, and valuable, even at this point in the internet’s maturity cycle. It’s a bit more work, but you are no longer at the mercy of the platform, a lesson we can learn from Facebook all too easily.

Source: #167: Medium.com feels like it’s forever. What if it isn’t?




Focus on Engagement and Newsletters Rather than Likes and Shares

In fact, research shows that there isn’t a high correlation between reading time and social sharing.

As you can see from the graph, the high read time doesn’t translate to shares. Just because someone clicked a share button, it doesn’t mean that they were engaged with the content.

Source: How to Effectively Manage Engagement for Stronger Influence




A Spotless Newsfeed?

Not April 1…


Tide-to-Go will partner with Google Chrome to provide a downloadable extension that will allow users to remove negative content from their social media newsfeed – helping to make more than just clothes a little bit brighter.

Source: Tide Digital Advert By S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications: Social Stain Remover | Ads of the World™




2018 Social Media Marketing Industry Report by Social Media Examiner

“Nearly all marketers (83%+) who’ve been employing social media marketing for 1 year or longer report it generates exposure for their businesses.”

I’m skeptical of these sorts of reports generally, but SME does a good job of presenting digestible data. There are certainly some good takeaways here for businesses of all sizes, nonprofits, and churches looking to do more with their social media profiles.

The PDF download is free.

In our tenth-annual social media study, more than 5,700 marketers reveal where they’ll focus their social media efforts.

Source: 2018 Social Media Marketing Industry Report : Social Media Examiner




Most People Don’t Want Privacy

The broader question is the tradeoff between privacy and advertising. While a tempting noun, most people don’t really *want* privacy, let alone understand what that means. It’s definitely not an unattainable goal, but it does require work… which is something many of our fellow citizens are reluctant to pursue when it comes to such technological conditions.

Third, Google and Facebook’s advertising advantage, already massive, is going to become overwhelming. Both companies generate the majority of their user data on their own platforms, which is to say their data collection and advertising business are integrated. Most of their competitors for digital advertising, on the other hand, are modular: some companies collect data, and other collect ads; such a model, in a society demanding ever more privacy, will be increasingly untenable.

Source: Open, Closed, and Privacy – Stratechery by Ben Thompson




Will you be able to buy items on Instagram soon?

Looks that way.

This is potentially huge for small businesses that use Instagram for promotions of their products (I know I follow several boutique accounts promoting everything from pens to knives to stationary)…

Instagram just stealthily added a native payments feature to its app for some users. It lets you register a debit or credit card as part of a profile, set up a security pin, then start buying things without ever leaving Instagram. Not having to leave for a separate website and enter payment information any time you want to purchase something could make Instagram a much bigger player in commerce.

Instagram quietly launches payments for commerce | TechCrunch
— Read on techcrunch.com/2018/05/03/instagram-payments/




10 most downloaded iPhone apps in the world

It might be surprising to Americans, but neither Facebook, Instagram, or YouTube is the most downloaded app on the iPhone anymore. As we continue to move into the 21st Century, we’re seeing the rise of Chinese apps and companies. This will only escalate in the coming years, especially as the US seems more preoccupied with tribalistic policies.

“Known as Douyin in China, Tik Tok is a music video and social media app. The app lets you shoot and edit short clips, then add music and special effects to them. Tik Tok is owned by the same parent company that bought social video app Musical.ly for $1 billion last year”

Facebook-owned apps dominated the App Store charts during the first three months of the year, but a Chinese-made music video app called Tik Tok took first place – Business Insider




Should I still advertise on Facebook?

Good read about what to do “now” with Facebook advertising…

The Facebook privacy quake has already forced the Facebook to change the way they handle and collect consumer data. That’s changing their advertising platform. And there’s more to come.

Source: Facebook Advertising: What’s Changing, What’s Not, & What To Do




Facebook Alert Day

This is going to be quite the talking point for many Facebook users today…

“All users will receive a link at the top of their News Feed outlining which apps they use and what information each app uses, Facebook’s Chief Technology Officer Mike Schroepfer said in a statement. Users whose data may have been improperly harvested by Cambridge Analytica can expect to receive an additional message like the one below:

“We have banned the website ‘This Is Your Digital Life,’ which one of your friends used Facebook to log into. We did this because the website may have misused some of your Facebook information by sharing it with a company called Cambridge Analytica.”

Facebook to Begin Letting Users Know If Their Data Was Harvested By Cambridge Analytica – HuffPost




You should blog

Be like the fox who makes more tracks than necessary, some in the wrong direction.

We could say goodbye to the creepy targeted ads and the algorithms, to the Nazis and bots and propagandists, to the harassers and the people selling hate. We could stop being spied-on for profit…

Or we can make the moral choice of renewal, of planting new bulbs and helping this old tree, a little bigger now, flower again.

Our hearts may end up broken. Again.

So?

Source: inessential: weblog




RSS in 2018

There’s so much wrong with this post, but I’ll point out my biggest gripe here… RSS (like podcasting) doesn’t need the metrics of behavior tracking for it to be a success. It’s distributed. It’s not commercialized. It’s not tracked with clicks based on eCPM’s or eCPC’s or brand quality engagement views.

And that’s ok.

It serves a heck of an important purpose.

Let’s all start using RSS readers again, btw. The internet will be a much better space.

RSS’ true failings though are on the publisher side, with the most obvious issue being analytics. RSS doesn’t allow publishers to track user behavior. It’s nearly impossible to get a sense of how many RSS subscribers there are, due to the way that RSS readers cache feeds. No one knows how much time someone reads an article, or whether they opened an article at all. In this way, RSS shares a similar product design problem with podcasting, in that user behavior is essentially a black box.

Source: RSS is undead | TechCrunch




Twitter’s Developer Problem

While Facebook continues to stumble through its public relations crisis over how it has handled developer access to user data, Twitter has been having its own issues with its developer base … just in a self-inflicted manner.

Twitter’ developer problem goes back to its decision to pivot the service into an advertising mechanism back in 2010 as it faced questions about monetization and shareholder returns. It’s simply shocking to me that Twitter executives are still struggling with these same issues 8 years later.

What made Twitter exciting and compelling in 2007 and 2008 was the rapidly expanding developer base that became attracted to the platform because of its rather open API that encouraged a healthy ecosystem of apps that built off of the Twitter coral reef.

So, it’s disappointing to see this struggle continue:

It’s good news that Twitter is backing down, but there are still open questions about whether its new Account Activity API is robust enough for third party Twitter apps to provide the same streaming services they now offer. So far Twitter hasn’t allowed outside developers to participate in the beta testing of that API.

Source: Twitter postpones platform change that would cut off third-party apps – The Verge