Over the past 30 days, you would have had to try pretty hard to avoid hearing about social media. New stories about Facebook's data issues seemed to pop up about once or twice a day—plus, there was a lot going on with channel updates, too!
Let's take a look at the most important stories and updates social media marketers need to know right now.
Notes on Facebook's Cambridge Analytica Scandal
Since March 17, Facebook has been in the news pretty much constantly. That's thanks to revelations by a the co-founder of a data firm called Cambridge Analytica, who told the New York Times and The Guardian that the firm had illegally used data on over 50 million Facebook users to help sway the 2016 presidential elections.
"We exploited Facebook to harvest millions of people's profiles and built models to exploit what we knew about them and target their inner demons. That was the basis the entire company was built on." —Christopher Wylie, co-founder of Cambridge Analytica
To paraphrase The Big Lebowski, this is a complicated case. ("...a lotta ins, lotta outs, lotta what-have-you's.") There are some good explainers you can check out online if you need a recap of all the ins and outs:
- Wired's "Everything you need to know" article
- VOX's explainer infographic
- Quartz's timeline of events
- Nieman Lab's exploration of the data model used by Cambridge Analytica
But what does it all mean for those of us who rely on Facebook to carry out our day jobs?
The Fallout So Far
It's hard to say for sure how Facebook will be changing, but it's safe to say things are changing. Here are a few things that have already started happening:
- There's a campaign encouraging users to #DeleteFacebook. TBD how far the movement will go. (Check out the CNET story for details.)
- Facebook announced it will end Partner Categories, a popular advertising tool (check out articles on TechCrunch and jonloomer.com for details)
- Articles and videos have begun circulating that show Facebook users how to download a copy of their data. (The CNBC page includes the video embedded below.)
- There is a renewed interest in regulating Facebook and other online communities, and Mark Zuckerberg is scheduled to testify to Congress.
- Many commentators have said Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and COO Sheryl Sandberg's response fell short and made the situation worse—especially waiting days before speaking publicly. (This Fortune article sums it up well.) (BTW, if you're interested in creating brand crisis response plan of your own, check out free guides for overcoming a social media crisis and for creating a review management plan.)
As this story continues to unfold, we'll keep you updated on the ramifications for brands. Stay tuned...
Pinterest introduces algorithm-free "Following tab"
Described in the announcement as "a place focused entirely on the people and boards you follow on Pinterest," the Following tab is essentially an algorithm-free newsfeed—pretty much what every social network used to have before implementing programming that feeds you the content (and ads) it thinks you will want to see. This new/old take on the Pinterest feed shows you Pins in the order they were shared.
The dynamic feed will remain the default, but now users who want the option to see things in order will have it. Pinterest-heavy social marketers should take actions to discover how much of its target audience makes that switch, but everyone should keep an eye on this, especially to see if platforms like Facebook and Twitter introduce similar options.
The Following tab is available now on the web, and will be rolling out to the Pinterest apps in the coming weeks.
Twitter is cracking down on over-Tweeting
To explain it in 140 characters or less...
Twitter no longer allows you to post duplicate content—either on the same account more than once, or by misusing multiple accounts.
Since the official announcement from Twitter, multiple scheduling tools (such as Dlvr.it) have also announced changes that will prevent users who manage more than one Twitter account from posting the same (or similar) content on more than once account. This could have a major impact on any brand making use of more than one Twitter handle. (Think about the accounts you might use other than your @brand: @localbrand, @specific-segment, @CEO, @beatreporter, etc.)
Where exactly is this coming from? It's definitely aimed at the people who are really taking advantage of Twitter, often using bots, and often with political purposes in mind. While we're sure you are not one of these people, the rules will still prevent you from, say, posting your latest blog in the exact same Tweet on multiple accounts.
This is a short list you should keep in mind, because these are the things that will get your account flagged/banned:
- Posting the same/similar content across many accounts, whether manually or using scheduling automation. (Consider your RSS feeds, weather alerts, and automatically Tweeted blog posts. You can still use that setup, but only with one account.)
- Using automation to perform actions such as Likes or Retweets with multiple accounts
- Posting the same content (aka "recycling") on a single Twitter account.
^Do any of that and your account may be suspended, terminated, or worse: expelled!
Instagram scheduling is now (FINALLY) available on most third-party apps
Users of popular social media schedulers like Buffer were greeted this news recently. While previously many third-party tools could integrate with Instagram and allow you to send yourself reminders to publish a certain photo at a certain time, Instagram had never allowed these tools to actually publish the post for you. (I suppose it had something to do with the "Insta" part of the brand... The photos are supposed to be something that's happening "right now"? Who knows.)
Note: This scheduling ability was actually added to Instagram Graph API in late January. Since then, Hootsuite, Sprout Social, Buffer and others have announced features to take advantage of the new ability.
Here's the catch:
- You can only schedule single-image posts, and it must be on a confirmed Instagram business profile. (No slideshows or videos, and no personal profiles.)
Check out your favorite scheduling tool's news/help sections for more details.
Introducing native video uploads for LinkedIn Company Pages
Personal profiles have had this ability for months, but LinkedIn is now rolling out native video posts to company pages, too:
The announcement came along with the news that you can now use video in a Sponsored Content ad that will appear "directly in the news feed as a standalone post."
This is a good opportunity to present a richer story on LinkedIn, whether as an organic Company Page post or a sponsored ad.
LinkedIn now has its very own video filters
Anyone who has ever added filters, stickers or text to a Snapchat or Instagram Stories post will quickly see what's going on here.
Now that LinkedIn allows native video posting (good!) they have decided to also give users the ability to overlay some basic stickers and text (meh?).
The stickers so far are limited to:
- “Work High Five”
- “Side Hustle”
- “On the Air”
To try it out for yourself:
We'll have to keep an eye on this feature to see how it expands in the coming months. We have seen how Snapchat's filters grew into a serious advertising game overtime. It's a little hard to see that happening on LinkedIn, but this may start to get some users feeling more comfortable with posting regular updates to the feed.
Pinterest Shopping Ads expanding to more businesses
"90% of Pinners told us they make purchase decisions on the platform, and 70% said they use it to find new products." —Pinterest's "How People Shop on Pinterest" study
According to this announcement, Pinterest's Shopping Ads (an advertising feature that integrates with existing product catalogs and creates interactive Pin ads) will be expanding to hundreds of businesses (compared to the current couple dozen, like IKEA and Lowe's).
Businesses with an existing product feed can reach out to the Pinterest Ads team via this form to explore this opportunity.
New Snapchat branding campaign
In March, Snapchat announced a modest feature improvement to its Maps functionality called Explore, but the more interesting update was this commercial-style video. Looks like Snap is doubling-down on the "we're a camera company" thing:
This spot is running during the Final Four. According to AdWeek, it's part of an effort to spread awareness of what exactly Snapchat "is" to the people who don't know (basically, people over age... 30?).
More Updates You Might Want to Check Out
How to Brand Your Facebook Mobile Live Streams – This Social Media Examiner walk-through is a step-by-step guide to creating a nice banner for your next FB Live sesh.
The Grim Conclusions of the Largest-Ever Study of Fake News – This article from The Atlantic shares "grim" findings from an MIT study, such as this: "Falsehoods almost always beat out the truth on Twitter, penetrating further, faster, and deeper into the social network than accurate information."
Facebook Lite – Wired has the scoop on a new, slimmed down Android app for people who want to use Facebook with less data. (It's already been available for "people in the parts of the world where a mobile data connection is difficult to access, unreliable, or just painfully slow" but now it's being released North America, Australia, and Western Europe for the first time.
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