Category: the internet is great
BuzzFeed News has blown the whistle on Twitter’s optional timeline algorithm, which will push popular tweets – out of chronological order – to the top of timelines. Hang on, though… I think you missed an important word in that first sentence: optional. That’s right, the feature is completely optional.
The feature has been likened to an extended “While You Were Away” feature by The Verge, saying that the “disorienting” arrangement of tweets is not much different from the pop-up section that shows you the popular things you missed when your Twitter app was closed.
Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey responded the the backlash of the weekend saying that Twitter is not dying and moving away from their roots, they’re simply adding new features for users to enjoy.
So, if everyone is so upset with the disruption of their timeline with the new algorithm feature and opt out, what was the point in the time spent in developing the change at all?
In another effort to compete with social media giant, Facebook, the Twitter has rolled out various features within the past year – with more down the pipeline for the future – that steer away from its original appeal. With favorites becoming likes, prioritizing algorithms and a move away from limited characters, Twitter progresses toward a bite-sized version of Facebook.
For new users, the prioritizing feature may be able to get them accustomed to the reverse-timeline aspect of Twitter until they get proper footing. Once comfortable, users can opt out and enjoy the stream of live tweets without any disruption.
Bottom-line: Twitter is not changing, they’re just diversifying users’ ability to prioritize or filter through their timelines.
And now a word from Smirk New Media president Mike Koehler: “Has there been a worse possible idea in the history of social media? Yes, I’m sure there has been, but none spring to mind. Twitter is made to be not-Facebook and adding a timeline which abandons the streaminess of Twitter betrays what we use the platform for – discovering what our community is talking about in real-time. You might be able to opt-out of this disaster of an idea, but what it’s going to do is deteriorate the idea that I can share moments with the people in our digital neighborhood and that’s going to be a loss not just for Twitter but for everyone accustomed to using it that way.”
The “most wonderful time of the year” starts with the recognition and thanksgiving for all the little things. This Thanksgiving, we’re thankful for the benefits digital marketing gives businesses and folks like us who manage social media for our clients’ great brands. Here are some of the things we’re thankful for:
1. Shared experiences
“I am thankful for shared Twitter experiences. Whether it’s the latest rumbling of an Oklahoma earthquake, the last seconds ticking down on a Thunder game or whomever is stumbling up the steps at the Oscars, being able to joke, snark, question and cheer on Twitter is now and always has been a blessing. I strongly believe that Twitter has strengthened our community’s muscles over the past few years and 2015 was no different. We keep growing up as an online community – we support folks who lose their jobs, help new events find their footing and keep talking in 140 characters or less. Just this year we did it with more photos, more GIFs and more moments.”
– Mike Koehler, president and chief strategist
“I’m thankful for community. That’s what social media is to me. Groups of people passionate about similar causes, ideas and industries who connect, interact, share, support and spur each other on. It’s opened my eyes to people and perspectives I otherwise wouldn’t have known or considered, helping to build empathy. Community is a powerful thing, and I’m thankful for the community that social media provides.”
– Kevin DeShazo, senior strategist
3. Higher marketing standards
“I am thankful that social media has not just changed the marketing game, but raised the bar. The traditional sales pitch is dead and I’m not sad to see it go. Unlike media outlets of the past, platforms, like Facebook, design their advertising standards putting the customer experience first to cultivate a captive audience. They limit overly promotional content and reward brands for creativity, originality and relevance to their target audience. Some see this change as an inconvenience, but I see it as a big opportunity. Those willing to adapt stand out amongst their competitors and are experiencing the benefits. Brands using social media well are creating more personal, conversational customer relationships than ever before, resulting in a positive impact on in their customer service, sales and community.”
– Allie Carrick, senior strategist
4. Local connections and information
“I am grateful that we live in a time where we can witness connections being fostered and help being given over social media platforms. It has been heartwarming to see local restaurants/suppliers reach out to nonprofits to supply food for Thanksgiving dinners across the state – like Other Options.
I am also thankful that businesses of all kinds are increasingly active on social media, as it allows us to find their Thanksgiving plans with ease; restaurants are tweeting their specials, their holiday hours, and generally connecting with their followers. Take Pie Junkie for example!”
– Lennon Patton, sales strategist
5. Creative sharing
“I’m thankful for the wealth of free or low cost creative sources available to the public. Artists of all forms contribute free resources of photos, graphics and fonts to make good content stand out. Programs like Canva give users with limited graphic design experience the ability to create professional graphics in preset dimensions for all of the digital platforms – social media, email, blogs, etc. Other low cost and free resources provide easy access to photography, mockups or graphics. More than the visual representations, however, the free resource of ideas, information and studies make content creation easier. By observing the digital world around us, these resources give us the ability to expand on ideas and create new trends.”
– Michaela Lawson, intern
Social media and the digital age have given us much more to be thankful for than just these perks, and the upcoming year will bring even more to be thankful for.
Welcome to the world of “Not Provided”.
In a move that has rocked the digital marketing world, Google has announced that it will encrypt all of its search results. While that may sound wonderful for privacy advocates, it torpedoes the ability of marketers and website owners to see which keywords are bringing in visitors.
Two of the top sites in our industry – Hubspot and SearchEngineLand.com – have looked at the issue. Basically, instead of Google Analytics showing the search keyword(s) that visitors used to get to your website, Google will block that info – posting “Not Provided.” For people familiar with Google Analytics, the percentage of searches coming up under that term has grown over the past two years.
Google has said that more search data will be available as part of its Google AdWords program … hmmm.
I asked Smirk New Media Business Development Director Stephanie Bice, who oversees all things SEO and Pay-Per-Click for our clients, her reaction to this news. Here are her thoughts:
“How can you write content, unless you know what potential customers are searching for? If I’m a business and I think the keyword phrase ‘flower shop OKC’ is how customers are finding me, but they are searching for ‘flower shops in Oklahoma City,’ I won’t know that using Google Analytics.”
“Essentially, everyone (will now be) guessing what kind wording they should be using in order to drive traffic to their site.”
“Social media may end up play a bigger part in driving traffic to your site than organic searches. You’d be better off on spending your money on growing your social audience. At least you are going to be able to measure results, because of the information about the audience you will have, instead of guessing.”
Combine this with Google’s recent tweaks to it overall search algorithm and it adds up to how to get the best results: consistent social media activity and quality content.
So here we sit, three years after the launch of Smirk New Media.
When this time of year comes and everyone scatters out of town for vacations, work slows down and businesses do what they can to tread water until school starts, I have to wonder – “what was I thinking?”
But despite being launched in the middle of the summer in the middle of the Great Recession, our little company has survived and thrived.
And there is oh-so-much more I would love to tell you about. We are fast approaching a time of incredible growth and clients I couldn’t have imagined back in the one-dude-at-Starbucks days.
In the past three years, I have seen the social media world ebb and flow, just in our market, let alone across the virtual world. Much to our great benefit, companies now understand that having a consistent commitment to the social community to going to help their business in the long run and many of them are smart and humble enough to understand that they may need help getting there.
For a while, it looked like we would have to fight every day to just be noticed in what quickly became a pretty crowded space of social media strategists in 2011. It seemed like there were a lot of shingles being hung out, which caused me a great deal of stress a couple of years ago.
But some very wise friends taught me a valuable lesson: focus on what we were doing, what Smirk New Media was all about, and deliver as best we could to the clients who were generous enough to have us. Don’t lose sleep over competitors who will come and go. Just do what you can do.
And that’s what these three years have been. Trying, delivering, stumbling, correcting, praying, writing, trusting and growing.
Smirk New Media sits in a great position today, largely by ourselves as a agency devoted solely to social media and web content. We don’t design web sites (still) and don’t try to deliver every marketing, public relations and consulting service under the sun.
Words on the web. That’s all.
That focus has allowed us to keep away from temptations and rabbit holes. There have been blind alleys and mistakes, but all our lines have been pointing upward and the future looks very bright.
If I had any advice for anyone wanting to start any business, no matter the industry and no matter the economic climate, it would be this: Surround yourself with people who love you enough to tell the truth, help people when you can and pray.
I have many, many people out there who have been patience beyond measure and supportive beyond imagination. I hope they all know just how much I appreciate them. If I haven’t told them lately, then I will tell them again today.
All of this is because of all of them. Clients, the OKC online community, friends, brothers and sisters at church, my family, my incredible, incredible team at work and the indescribable foundation at home.
The best is yet to come.
Connecting with your audience has evolved so much over the past decade. When the right people promote posts and they go viral, they can circulate across the world in minutes. Advertisers are still struggling to invest in word of mouth advertising and harness the power of influential community members.
With digital marketing budgets on the rise, it’s more important than ever to use every resource to reach as many people as possible.
Compliments of MBA in Marketing, a new info graphic may provide the insight advertisers need to finally get onboard with social influencers. This info graphic shows how social media influencers impact purchasing behaviors amongst peers.
There are plenty of entries in the Big Book of People Who Have Underestimated Social Media (and the Internet) including entertainment executives, snarky marketers, defenders of traditional content creators, Joe Theismann, etc.
Added to the list recently was another casualty from the Oklahoma Legislature. The latest and greatest social media case study came with the debate HB1895, which would have eliminated the Oklahoma State Arts Council and its grants to arts events and organizations around the state.
When word got out about Rep. Josh Cockroft”s bill, the social media community jumped into action to smack it down.
Jonathan Fowler, the business leader who supports the arts and the Norman Music Festival, was pleased with how social media rallied behind the arts and how quickly the word spread.
Here”s what Fowler said in an email to Smirk New Media: “I was very impressed with the outcry on social media networks and how that translated into real action. I so often see photos for some “cause” where I am told to like or share something, and if I don’t then that clearly means I am the enemy of that cause. Those photos rack up thousands up on thousands of likes and shares and rarely translate to real action to benefit a human being. This was totally different.”
Fowler went on to say, “This went from outcry to action quicker than I ever expected. In addition to that this wasn’t just a liberal, or arts community driven effort. All over Oklahoma people from both sides of the political aisle and the business community came out in support of the Oklahoma Arts Council. It was a great example of the positive power of social media.”
The bipartisan support for the arts on social media used the #HB1895 in their discussions about the bill, and the Oklahoma Artist Coalition meeting featured #vocal4okarts. Next, a Facebook page Oklahomans Against HB1895 created another place for Oklahomans to organize and pledge their support to the arts online. The page facilitated a conversation on how the individuals think the arts positively impacts the state.
Kyle Golding, CEO of the Golding Group, a business consulting firm which supports and helps many non-profits, also spoke out for the arts. Golding followed (and spurred on) the conversation on both Twitter and Facebook.
“I started posting economic impact facts, linked to my blog post about arts and economics and the NEWS OK video about the arts conference,” Golding said. “After that, I posted the Economic Impact Report. Finally, when Rep. Cockroft stated in an interview he had received “1,000 emails, but only 4 were negative” I reposted that quote with his email address. That”s when his office started responding directly with a form email that was basically his blog post from the week before. That email was spread all over Facebook, showing how insincere he was in responding to citizens.”
Wrapping up the conversation is Jennifer James of Oklahomans For the Arts, which keeps an eye on such bills and defends against them.
Jennifer attributed this success to social media and the grassroots community as a whole.
“After a moratorium was placed on the Art in Public Places Program, Oklahoma”s art leaders led by Jim Tolbert, knew that we were facing a possible sea change with public funding for the arts,” Jennifer said. “These leaders created a new nonprofit to advocate for increased support of arts, culture and arts education in Oklahoma and they named it Oklahomans for the Arts. Our focus since that day has been primarily on public funding for the arts via the Oklahoma Arts Council.”
The Oklahoma Arts Council posted its own response to the legislation in a blog on January 23. The post explained that 85% of its funding comes from state appropriations. Also, 80% of the Arts Council budget goes directly to projects in communities all over the state through grants.
“With limited funds, and a part-time director, OFTA sought to advance arts advocacy almost exclusively through social networking,” Jennifer said. “We”ve been active on Facebook, Twitter and Blogger for nearly two years. Just two or three days before we learned of HB 1895, we reminded our friends on Facebook about the struggle Kansas has had since they lost their arts council two years ago. We even said, “This could happen here. We did not know then that the language for HB 1895 had been written in early January.””
In 2011, Kansas became the first state in history to completely eliminate funding for the arts. That caused the state to also lose over $1 million in matching funds from the National Endowment of the Arts. After extreme public outcry, some funding has been restored, but its budget is less than half what it was in 2010.
“Our board believes grassroots advocates are the best people to advocate to lawmakers on behalf of the arts,” Jennifer said. “OFTA monitors legislation and serves as a resource of information. We push things out to our social networks, which includes a robust Mailchimp list. We plant seeds and then hope they germinate. That is what happened with HB 1895. Arts advocates owned this cause and it took on a life of its own. We don”t attempt to control advocates or what they do. Some created their own Facebook pages against the bill. Others initiated T-shirts and bumper stickers. Many wrote unique letters and spoke out with their own unique voices. This was truly a grassroots effort. OFTA”s job is to provide our networks with consistent, accurate information. Oklahoma”s arts advocates defeated HB 1895.”
Facebook-owned Instagram app capitalizes on the fact that people love visual media. This free smartphone app allows users to upload and edit personal photos, then view and comment on other users images in a real-time feed. Instagram differs from other social platforms because it’s exclusive to mobile. Instagram doesn’t accommodate desktop publishing. Users are able to choose if their photo feeds are public or private.
In December, Instagram announced big privacy and terms of service changes. This week they sent out a reminder email to users that the changes go into effect Saturday, January 19. Backlash followed the initial announcement because the original revision claimed perpetual rights to sell users’ photographs without notifying or compensating a photographer. Under that policy, Facebook could license all public Instagram photos, past or present, to other companies, including for advertising purposes. This would make Instagram the world’s largest stock photo agency.
After a public outcry, Instagram changed their tune and announced that the policy change wouldn’t be so drastic anymore after user feedback. In a blog on their site, Instagram Co-Founder Kevin Systrom stated they had no intention of selling users photos and acknowledged user-uploaded pictures are not Instagram property. However, Instagram is exploring how advertising will be integrated into their platform and once they’ve decided concretely what they’re going to do, they’ll announce official plans to the public.
The app gains a new member every second and hosts over one billion user-uploaded photos. It’s one of the fastest social platforms to reach 100 million members. It took Facebook four years to reach 100 million users and Instagram reached the milestone in a little over two years. The average Instagram user spent 257 minutes accessing Instagram in August (All Things D). Twitter users over the same period only accessed the site for 170 minutes.If you’re looking to manage an Instagram account on a computer, check out Statigram. This French-designed tool allows users to view, promote, manage, analyze and engage other users on Instagram. This tool provides free profile, content and engagement statistics similar to Klout, but with more useful options. You can add a tab to your Facebook fan page that will display your Instagram feed, create a photo gallery widget for your website, launch photo promotion contests and create a patchwork Facebook cover photo filled with photos from your Instagram profile.
Instagram is looking for ways to maximize advertising profits and marketers have to keep an eye on how this issue will evolve in coming months. Systrom basically expressed that Instagram is trying to find a way to piggyback off of Facebook sponsored posts, but they need to find an Instagram spin for it. They want to gain from business promotion, but have to find a way to not alienate its average user base.New policies could benefit or harm your brand’s promotional efforts on the app. As always, Smirk New Media will keep you updated on how Instagram advertising expands. Until we know more, Instagram is a force to be reckoned with and every brand should explore if they could be effective on Instagram.
As much as we’d all like there to be, there is no viral button on the internet. You can’t make a video which you think is clever and turn it into a worldwide meme. The right things need to happen in the right order for your cat to be the next Grumpy Cat or for your business to become the next Ojai Taxidermy.