Sam Harrelson

Twitter Media Launch

I’m a little confused by this…

Today, we’re excited to announce the launch of Twitter Media, a new website for publishers to learn how to get the most out of Twitter. Twitter Media allows us to scale our team’s work by giving content publishers a resource that’s both inspirational and practical…

— Read on blog.twitter.com/marketing/en_us/topics/product-news/2018/twitter-media-a-new-home-for-publishers-on-twitter.html




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




Trump blocking Twitter critics is unconstitutional, court decides

What a time to be alive.

It is unconstitutional for public officials, including the president, to block Twitter followers who criticize them, a court ruled today in a legal dispute over President Trump’s account.

— Read on www.theverge.com/2018/5/23/17385298/trump-blocking-twitter-unconstitutional-court-ruling




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




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




Twitter says to change your password 🙄

Can we all agree that passwords have outlived their usefulness and we need a new system of credentialing?

money.cnn.com/2018/05/03/technology/twitter-password-bug/index.html




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




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




Don’t fall for lots of likes and retweets

Also good advice for churches and nonprofits doing social media marketing on a shoestring budget:

Bots manipulate credibility by influencing social signals like the number of aggregated likes or shares a post or user receives. People see a large number of retweets on a post and read it as a genuine signal of authentic traction in the marketplace of ideas. Do not fall for this. Trends are basically over—they’re too easy to manipulate. This goes for any information online that feeds off of public signals, including things like search autocomplete or content recommendation lists. Journalists can no longer rely on information sources reflecting some form of online “popularity.”

Source: The bots beat: How not to get punked by automation – Columbia Journalism Review




Surveillance Capitalism

Surveillance capitalism is deeply embedded in our increasingly computerized society, and if the extent of it came to light there would be broad demands for limits and regulation. But because this industry can largely operate in secret, only occasionally exposed after a data breach or investigative report, we remain mostly ignorant of its reach.

Bruce Schneier – Facebook and Cambridge Analytica




Data Panic

I’ve been following Curran’s tweets and posts and press blitz the last couple of days, and I have to say that I’m not a fan of his scare tactics and frequent plugs for people to donate to his Patreon so that he can continue his “work”.

Yes, your data should be intensely personal and used wisely by yourself and companies you use to accomplish things in your day-to-day. However, this sort of shock posting intended to scare and react quickly to statements like “GOOGLE KNOWS YOUR WEIGHT!!” isn’t helpful.

This is absolutely nothing new, and yes… we’ve long known that Google can track your locations (if you opt-in and allow location services) and know your YouTube viewing history.

Let’s not tell Dylan to investigate what his internet service provider knows about him…

The harvesting of our personal details goes far beyond what many of us could imagine. So I braced myself and had a look

Source: Are you ready? This is all the data Facebook and Google have on you | Dylan Curran | Opinion | The Guardian




Large implications as Facebook shuts down Partner Categories

This is significant. Many large companies (Fortune 100 type) have their own data sets on customers and potential customers and audiences they’d like to target. They’ve been able to combine that data with Facebook’s or Twitter’s own user data in incredibly effective (and cheap!) marketing campaigns tied to email newsletters and website promotions. None of that really changes here.

What does change is the democratization of that ability to do intensely targeted marketing for smaller companies and groups. Many of my clients, for instance, are nonprofits and churches operating on shoestring budgets but aware of the incredible reach that Facebook provides. Part of that reach had to do with Facebook’s Partner Categories program that allowed for companies or groups to use customer data with 3rd party data sources (Experian, for example) for campaigns at a reasonable cost. That aspect goes away now.

This third data set is primarily helpful to advertisers who might not have their own customer data, like small businesses or consumer packaged goods companies that sell their products through brick-and-mortar retailers.

Source: Facebook is cutting third-party data providers out of ad targeting to clean up its act – Recode

It’s a good move for many reasons and I expect to see many social outlets follow suit (Twitter, for example). However, it does make the playing field that much more complicated for smaller businesses or groups that don’t have the ability to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on customer surveys and data collections.

This multi-device, multi-channel world that we’re living in presents tremendous opportunity, but the reality is that connecting these experiences is still very challenging. Especially on a budget.




If you automate tweets for marketing purposes, you might want to read this

Back in January, Twitter announced upcoming changes to its service that would discourage use of automation tools for “amplification” of tweets. Now we’re beginning to see the effects of this change.

One of the great things about using Twitter for marketing is the relative ease of “amping” up tweets and causing increased “velocity” which signals to the Twitter algorithms that more followers should see the tweet. If you’re using the default Twitter app on the web or on your device or tablet, you’re not seeing all the tweets of all the people you follow in real time. Instead, Twitter (much like Facebook or Instagram) uses machine learning algorithms to try and determine what you might want to see. That’s still a big revelation to many, but it definitely impacts how we use Twitter for marketing and messaging purposes. Much like Facebook or Instagram, the more people that like or interact with your tweet, the better.

Agencies and social media managers have long used tools like Buffer or HubSpot or HootSuite to manage multiple accounts and cross-pollinate those tweets with likes and retweets to increase velocity.

The beauty of that approach is that it’s fairly cheap to achieve what looks like a successful series of tweets if you’re using stats or variables like “views” or “favorites” as your main metric. The trick is, you shouldn’t. In the marketing world, it’s common to brag to your clients about the number of page views or “engagements” but in reality, those metrics never measure up to much more than ego inflation. What Twitter is doing here is a healthy thing for its platform as it encourages more meaningful interactions and activity on tweets, even in a marketing context.

Unfortunately, I know of so many nonprofits and churches and small businesses that rely on “a kid down the street” or an intern or a “young person who knows computers” to manage their social media accounts. There are numerous scary and telling cautionary tells on the web of companies or churches or nonprofits causing themselves major headaches by relying on inexperienced users of social media to manage accounts because of their age or hipness or perceived credibility. Social media (Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat etc) have really become your front door on the web. It’s often how you can best get people back to your site. So treat it with care and make sure the manager knows the best practices. Tools like Buffer or HootSuite allow for groups or companies on shoestring budgets to really make a powerful use of Twitter as a marketing platform. But moves like this show us that the market is changing and users are wising up.

Here are the highlights from Twitter’s changes that have begun rolling out:

Do not (and do not allow your users to) simultaneously post identical or substantially similar content to multiple accounts. For example, your service should not permit a user to select several accounts they control from which to publish a given Tweet.

Do not (and do not allow your users to) simultaneously perform actions such as Likes, Retweets, or follows from multiple accounts.

The use of any form of automation (including scheduling) to post identical or substantially similar content, or to perform actions such as Likes or Retweets, across many accounts that have authorized your app (whether or not you created or directly control those accounts) is not permitted.

Users of TweetDeck will no longer be able to select multiple accounts through which to perform an action such as Tweeting, Retweeting, liking, or following.

Source: Automation and the use of multiple accounts

As always, get in touch if you need help.




Churches and nonprofits should realize that Facebook privacy issues are just the tip of the iceberg

Way back in 2012, I was featured in a New York Times article titled “How To Muddy Your Tracks on the Internet” and offered up this bit as part of my interview (I was teaching Middle School Science at the time):

“The topic of privacy policies and what lies ahead for our digital footprints is especially fascinating and pertinent for me, since I work with 13- and 14-year-olds who are just beginning to dabble with services such as Gmail and all of Google’s apps, as well as Facebook, Instagram, social gaming,” he said. “I have nothing to hide, but I’m uncomfortable with what we give away.”

It feels like we were so naive then, doesn’t it? Perhaps.

Here’s a segment from a great post by Doc Searls:

Let’s start with Facebook’s Surveillance Machine, by Zeynep Tufekci in last Monday’s New York Times. Among other things (all correct), Zeynep explains that “Facebook makes money, in other words, by profiling us and then selling our attention to advertisers, political actors and others. These are Facebook’s true customers, whom it works hard to please.” Irony Alert: the same is true for the Times, along with every other publication that lives off adtech: tracking-based advertising. These pubs don’t just open the kimonos of their readers. They bring people’s bare digital necks bared to vampires ravenous for the blood of personal data, all for the purpose of “interest-based” advertising.

Source: Doc Searls Weblog · Facebook’s Cambridge Analytica problems are nothing compared to what’s coming for all of online publishing

I have no problem admitting that I’m a fanboy of Doc Searls. Search through the 12 years of archives here and you’ll find me quoting or sourcing him many times in posts regarding advertising throughout the years.

This is one of those seminal posts that I feel like I’ll come back to later and want to reflect upon giving newfound insight or knowledge. That often happens with posts from Searls.

What I’m particularly intrigued about here is the 1) action and 2) reaction notion of “NOW WHAT?”. It’s been no surprise to us that work in the marketing and advertising world what’s happened with Facebook and Cambridge Analytica over the last couple of weeks.

In fact, it’s incredibly easy and almost encouraged to use Facebook data to target people to an alarmingly intimate degree. It’s part of the game. I’ve always felt icky about the situation and I’ve more than once steered clients away from targeting users using FB Ad Manager for campaigns that would otherwise have been fine without that element.

It’s been an uneasy compromise for many of us, knowing what we give away in exchange for the enjoyment of friends and family pictures on Facebook. But this isn’t new. We just waited too long to do anything about it.

So where do we go now? I like Searls’ argument for a reader-first method of distinguishing rights and responsibilities for data on the web. Having worked in AdTech circles for 20 or so years now, I’m dubious about the execution or transformation that it will take to bring about such a revolution though.

Aside from the ethical dimension, there’s also the notion of democratization. Love it or hate it, AdTech and Facebook Ads and Twitter ads and affiliate marketing have leveled the playing field for many small businesses and nonprofits who could never have afforded agency rates as we knew them.

Perhaps that’s the lesson here for us all to learn. There needs to not only be profit involved in algorithmic marketing based on user profiles of demographic data, but also ethics.

We all need to do better with our marketing campaigns. However, the genie is out of the bottle to use another saying. There’s no going back to the quaint world of multi-million dollar Mad Men style creative brand advertisements dominating the industry.

I’d posit that’s a good thing. Meanwhile, online news and publishing and business and church and nonprofit sites should do better about monitoring the type of data they collect and pass on to 3rd parties either knowingly or unknowingly.

Churches and nonprofits especially need to heed this warning. Tracking is built into so many website builders and content management systems and email newsletter systems that they use. However, churches and nonprofits turn a blind eye to the reality that now faces them in an era where people are increasingly already turning away from their outreach.

It’s time to take the web (and those you’re looking to reach) seriously.




Podcast on Church Marketing

Thomas and I recorded a new episode of Thinking Religion last night that covers many of my thoughts about how churches and nonprofits use (and should use) social media, email services, web apps etc in their marketing efforts. My basic point is that “social” media is reaching the same point that “broadcast” media did years ago. Rather than having one or three TV channels for news and shows and 2 main newspapers for the country or one radio commentator that we all listen to, broadcast media as we knew it broke up into many small islands that Netflix and Hulu etc descended from. The same is happening with social media today. Instead of a person having to be on Facebook because that’s where everyone else is, there are many little islands forming off the backs of interests. Don’t build your island on Facebook’s coral reef and expect it to last forever.

You can listen here:

Dr. Thomas Whitley and The Rev. Samuel Harrelson discuss The Great Social Media Reckoning of 2018, broadcast media vs social media, why you need a website (and why your church needs a GOOD website), and the importance of bringing it all back home.

Source: Thinking Religion Episode 144: Should Your Church Delete Its Facebook Page?




What Facebook knows about you and me and what I can do about it


Cambridge Analytica harvested personal information from a huge swath of the electorate to develop techniques that were later used in the Trump campaign.

Source: How Trump Consultants Exploited the Facebook Data of Millions – The New York Times


I often have consultations with clients involving data sources. Marketing has always been closely tied to the acquisition and analysis of data related to potential target audiences or desired demographics. A large part of what I do every day is staring at spreadsheets and trying to derive direction or wisdom out of data that Facebook or Twitter or Instagram or Snap or Google has gathered from their (often overlapping) groups of products users for our clients’ campaigns.

I loathe using the term “campaign” to refer to anything marketing related… it’s not a battle and we’re not at war. Even worse is the dehumanization that often occurs in marketing conversations we all have about the data generated by real people on the web. Both are related in that our gathering and use of this data combined with our resulting conclusions and “targeting” (again with the militaristic violent language) makes actual people into abstract data points.

It’s little talked about in our industry, but data ethics are something we really need to take more seriously in all aspects of our marketing efforts, whether you’re working with a Fortune 500 company or a small country church.

I know that I personally feel a twitch of regret mixed with reservation when I click on a radio buttons to specify that I’d like to target women above the age of 40 who have relationship issues but live in this affluent ZIP code and enjoy looking at pictures of wine and spirits on Instagram. It’s terrifying. But, it’s relatively cheap and incredibly effective. Our church and nonprofit clients on shoestring budgets can’t get enough of the reach and response from this kind of data marketing (“like shooting fish in a barrel” is a common saying for a reason).

I did a good deal of work on ethics in Divinity School. I’m taking a course in the coming weeks on Data Science Ethics. Now, I need to do a better job of thinking through these types of marketing efforts and explaining the ethical implications of using this data given that most people have NO IDEA how much is known about them (yes, because of Facebook and social media but also because of the relative ease of connecting someone’s phone number or address or email with their browsing history, activity on location tracking services, voter records etc). I need to do a better job of helping clients think through the humanization and dehumanization involved with marketing and advertising and their own goals (especially for churches and nonprofits). I need to do a better job of providing real alternatives to the types of data usage that resulted in situations like our current political climate. I need to provide shoestring budget options for marketing that emphasizes humanity and relatedness rather than victory.

Otherwise, I’m just hanging out in Omelas.

Is there space for “ethical marketing” in a crowded environment of agencies driving the cost of “targeting” and “campaigning” and “development” to the lowest common denominator in terms of price and friction? I’m not sure. But I’m just crazy enough to start giving it a try.




Young People, Old People, and the Monkeysphere

 

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“Today, however, the newest data increasingly support the idea that young people are actually transitioning out of using what we might term broadcast social media – like Facebook and Twitter – and switching instead to using narrowcast tools – like Messenger or Snapchat. Instead of posting generic and sanitized updates for all to see, they are sharing their transient goofy selfies and blow-by-blow descriptions of class with only their closest friends.”

Source: So long social media: the kids are opting out of the online public square

I completely agree with the author’s post that young people are rapidly moving from broadcast to narrowcast social media (at least for their most important or personal communications with friend groups etc).

However, the post concludes with a note that young people might not be as aware or open to ideas outside of their close friends group if they’re not engaging in “social media” such as Facebook or Twitter.

“The great promise of social media was that they would create a powerful and open public sphere, in which ideas could spread and networks of political action could form.”

That wasn’t the great promise of social media. Social media, like Twitter, will always have an inherent imbalance. Couple that with the widespread amount of abuse and harassment, particularly of female and transgender users on Twitter, and it’s no wonder why young people would shy away from using these platforms for more meaningful engagement.

Messaging, in small groups, overcomes this. Besides, networks of political action figured out long ago that governments of political action are closely watching broadcast social media and have already turned to encrypted channels such as Telegram.

Narrowcasting isn’t just more meaningful, it has the potential to be more actionable than the hashtag laden culture that we’ve created with public tweets.

Long ago in a conversation (well, more like me pleading with him to shed some light on why he was so enamored with Second Life), my pal Wayne Porter turned me on to the idea of Dunbar’s Number. It took me over a decade to decipher Wayne (as is normally the case), but he was right. The “Monkeysphere” is very real. And it’s going to kill Facebook. It’s already killing Twitter.

I’ve written before (back in 2011) about narrowcasting and responsible marketing… looks like we’re finally getting there.

With the evolution of blogging early in the ’00s and the advent of Technorati, Delicious, Flickr, Friendster, and eventually MySpace we 30, 40, 50, 60, 70, and 80 something year olds were sold a bag of goods with a label of “social media.” It was a glorious time to be on the web. Everything from logos to AJAX to revenue models felt new as we wiped the crust of AOL from our eyes to see the wider world. Everything from grocery delivery to advertising would be revolutionized. We didn’t realize we were the intermediate step.

We were Ham The Chimp to this generation’s Mercury program. We’ve still got a long collective way to go to the Moon, though.

From churches to political campaigns to social media flame wars to real life gang fights… our brains describe so much of our weird actions. Why don’t we care about the people (well, probably robots now) collecting and sorting our trash when we throw glass bottles into a bin (recycling or no)? Why do we so easily eat and wrap our furniture with other tasty mammals who we now know have feelings, intelligence, and memories? Why do we so easily dismiss the conservatives or gays or whites or women or alcoholics or welfare moms? Because they aren’t in our Monkeyspheres.

Not to be devotional, but Lent is a time for me as a person of christian faith to reflect on that and what it means to my own impact on this connected, but ever fragmented, world.

Don’t bemoan the loss of Twitter or Facebook as avenues of advertising and marketing. Let’s shoot for the moon and make revenue models that appeal to the angels of our better selves rather than our lizard brains.