Tag Archives: Facebook

4 Clickbait Questions You Were Afraid to Ask—The Answers May Surprise You!

ClickbaitWe’ve all heard whispering and grumbling about the proliferation of clickbait, those irresistible, attention-grabbing headlines that have become an inescapable part of the social media landscape. But where do you draw the line between marketing and something more sinister? Should clickbait-y concepts be a part of your own strategy? We know you’re curious—let’s get right to the answers!

What is Clickbait?

Coined a few years back, “clickbait” is a pejorative term for curiosity-inducing headlines designed to generate as many clicks and shares as possible on social media channels. You know it when you see it—web sites like Upworthy and BuzzFeed made their names with shareable headlines like “What’s One of the Worst Ways to Motivate Someone? Hint: You See It All the Time.

Titles like these beg the reader to click through to reveal the answer or to uncover the supposedly shocking twist. Most of these sites take the bait a step further by suggesting that you share their content, generating likes and conversations on social platforms in the process.

Is Clickbait Actually Effective?

There hasn’t been a lot of empirical research done regarding the efficacy of clickbait-style headlines, but the evidence speaks for itself. In November 2013, Upworthy was outpacing CNN.com with twice their total social shares, even though CNN had twenty-six times the amount of actual content.

Take one look at your own Facebook news feed and you’ll likely spot dozens of shared articles; unsurprisingly, the majority of them have headlines that make you want to cringe and click through all at once. All of the evidence suggests the same thing: clickbait is working, and it’s here to stay.

What’s Wrong with Clickbait?

Detractors have pointed to an influx of low-quality, sloppy content on the other side of the click; some critics have even called clickbait unethical. After all, if the content is good and they’re telling the truth, why do the authors have to “bait” you into viewing it?

Of course, there’s always another side to the story. Content generators must seek out new and novel ways of driving readers to their sites—their business model depends on it. At the end of the day, no one is forcing users to share, click, or “like” anything. It’s an organic process, often more of an art than a science, and the best writers at Upworthy have discovered effective methods of funneling users toward their articles—what’s wrong with that?

Should I Be Writing Clickbait-y Headlines?

There’s no catchall answer. Rather, the strategies you utilize should derive organically from the content itself. As Neil St. Clair, writing for Forbes Magazine, puts it, “[clickbait as a marketing tactic is] neither right nor wrong; it’s simply a matter of your business model and audience.” An austere, self-serious publication like The New York Times doesn’t rely on sensational headlines because it doesn’t mesh with their identity; likewise, the fun-loving BuzzFeed depends on clicks and shares to survive, and they have no qualms about using headlines that have been proven to succeed.

There you have it: clickbait-inspired titles are everywhere you look in today’s online world, and this particular trend shows no signs of slowing down. Content generators continue to value these headlines because they’ve been effective at grabbing social media readers’ attention in the past.

But that doesn’t mean you have to use them yourself just to keep up—that will depend on your own unique goals. Sometimes just knowing what you’re up against is the best place to start.

The Hidden Hazards of Technology (And How to Fix Them)

Technology exists to make our lives better—but does it?

For the most part, yes: instead of writing a letter, you can communicate in an instant over email or text; rather than cracking open an encyclopedia, you have the sum of the world’s history, art, and science at the tip of your fingers. You can order chic clothes from Paris with a click or forge a vital partnership with a business in Taiwan with a videoconference.

But for all its convenience, technology also brings new hazards, both to our health and our social lives. Fortunately, there are ways around them.

Take a Seat… Or Don’t

For both work and play, we’re planted at our computers more than ever. The problem? Most of us are sitting wrong, raising the risk for long-term injury.

How do you sit at your computer? Chances are good you’re hunching over, leaning far back, or bending your legs awkwardly. As physiotherapist Lorna Taylor tells Mashable, if such incorrect posture is “repeated again and again, lasting changes in muscles, ligaments and tendons can occur.”

Okay, so what’s the right way to sit? Keep your back straight against the chair, arms at a 90 degree angle, and feet flat on the ground. While it may feel robotic at first, you’ll be doing your human body a favor.

Hyper Connected, But Not in Real Life

With Facebook, texting, and instant messaging, you can reach all your friends in a millisecond. Reaching them in real life, however, may be more difficult than ever.

Gadgets haven’t exactly helped when trying to get the gang all together. In a hilariously true-to-life video, Alex Cornell explains, “cell phones have made plans susceptible to revision at any moment; thus, making them in advance is essentially pointless—futile, even.”

In the past, you made plans and stuck to them. Now it’s all too easy to be flaky when a night out is cobbled together on the fly. See that Facebook event? Notice how many people clicked the “Maybe” button. Next time you see a friend, try something radical: make plans in person and show up on time.

Technology has fundamentally changed the way we live our lives—and mostly for the better. It’s given us all sorts of instant conveniences, delightful diversions, and powerful connections.

Still, it’s important to understand the new risks that technology poses and how to overcome them. As awesome as our gadgets are, it’s refreshing to take a break from time to time—they haven’t made the real world obsolete just yet.

Author: Natacha Arora

Privacy Invasion or Personalization: Has Digital Marketing Gone Too Far?

Privacy vs Personalization

Privacy Invasion or Personalization: Has Digital Marketing Gone Too Far?

Mark Zuckerberg’s social network just put the face in the Facebook: the company’s new facial-recognition software uses futuristic artificial intelligence to identify faces almost as accurately as humans.

While the A.I. isn’t being used yet, it is stirring up fears about potential invasions of privacy. The hyper-accurate software could one day be used by marketers to track users in public and display targeted ads in the real world, sort of like the holographic spokespeople in Minority Report. If spam annoys you now, imagine having it follow you everywhere.

This is just the latest advance in the ongoing trend of personalization. As technology progresses and we become ever more digitally dependent, marketers are gathering more and more info on consumers, scraping personal data and online history to deliver targeted ads. But is it an unwelcome invasion or valuable marketing tool? Perhaps both.

Privacy vs. Personalization

On the face of it (pardon the pun), targeted ads seem like a win-win.  Consumers see ads that they’re actually interested in (e.g., teenagers probably aren’t considering reverse mortgages, nor will retirees appreciate that Taylor Swift’s new single is now available on iTunes). At the same time, advertising dollars are used more efficiently than ever, raising ROI to unprecedented levels and lowering the barrier of entry for startups and small businesses.

And yet, at the same time, it’s hard not to feel a little creeped out. Gmail reads through all of my personal emails to serve me relevant ads. The reader may be an impersonal algorithm, but it feels like voyeurism all the same. 

The Debate Rages On

In the battle between privacy and personalization, it’s difficult to say who’s winning: Google recently stopped scanning students’ Gmail activity in an attempt to preserve privacy, yet Yahoo just decided to disregard users’ “Do Not Track” settings in the name of personalized experience.

While it seems inevitable that digital markets will continue to encroach on personal data, it’s public debates like this that rein in Google and Facebook from becoming Big Brother.

I believe there’s a middle path. Personalization is a great boon for advertising and enhancing user experience; it seems naïve to think we’ll backpedal at this point. As personal data continues to grow exponentially, digital markets must proceed ethically and strive to honor transparency, privacy, and respect.

Author: Daniel Gordon

Facebook Terms of Service Update Implications

About a month ago, Facebook changed its privacy policy again, this time regarding storage of your profile picture and how Facebook intends to use your profile information. If you want a quick read, you can stop at the end of the next sentence. Facebook wants to use everything you post on your profile, so stop worrying about it or stop using the social channel.

For those of you who are still reading, these changes came about as a result of the recent settlement of a 2011 lawsuit brought by a group of Facebook users regarding the legality of sponsored posts and Facebook’s infringement of privacy. The argument was that Facebook did not exclusively detail how user information was being used and that sponsored posts were a misleading title for what they really were: targeted ads.

As part of the settlement, Facebook must explicitly state what it uses your information for in reference to its ads. This information includes “likes,” interactions with advertisers, keywords from posts––all of which advertisers use to show us specifically targeted ads. At the end of the day, it’s a very direct way of telling you what you should already know: When you sign up for Facebook, you become the product.

The second update is the expansion of Facebook’s facial recognition technology for a user’s profile picture. This was touted as a way to make tagging friends easier. Users, however, usually have just themselves in these profile images. This may suggest that profile pictures are going to be further integrated into Facebook’s advertising, either through using a user’s familiar face to recommend services to his or her friend or recognizing locations and products in a user’s profile picture and offering ads targeted to those surroundings.

Will the new updates be earth-shattering to users? Most likely not. But it’s another stepping stone to Facebook’s ultimate goal of being the most personalized advertising vehicle in existence, made possible by its users. And all it takes is a little bit of your data.

Author: Zack Smith

Let’s Get Visual!

I’m going to tell you the worst-kept secret that you already know. Nobody likes to read anything anymore. Well, not anything that is just a wall of text. We’re all guilty of scanning a document instead of reading every word or sharing an article after just reading the headline. Nobody is proud of it, but with the sheer bulk of content that is produced everyday, we have to get through all of it somehow.

All of the most digestible information we encounter now has enormous visual pieces coupled with it. Think of every infographic you read, every photo with a caption, and video you can play while multitasking. You learn much more from these visually captivating pieces than from walls of text similar to this post (but I’m breaking up this content with pictures, so bear with me).

Social media provides a great platform for watching how people consume information. We started off with blogs that were hundreds––if not thousands––of words long. We then moved to Facebook, cutting people’s word count by at least half, and then to Twitter, keeping our count to 140 characters or less. Now, Instagram, Pinterest, YouTube, and Tumblr are allowing for content sans words, replaced by images, audio, and visual communication.

But just because we are truncating what we write, does that make it more effective? It sure seems that way. Here are some stats:

  • 44% of social media users are more likely to engage with brands if they post pictures (as opposed to other types of media)
  • Facebook photos get at least 7x more likes than links do
  • Pinterest, a completely visual social media channel, has grown by 6000% in the last 8 months
  • Images are the most clicked-on content on Twitter
  • Recruiters spend more time looking at a user’s LinkedIn profile picture than anything else
  • More than 6 billion hours of YouTube videos are being watched per month
  • Flipboard, a visual news app, was the #1 application when the iPad launched
  • Images are processed 60,000x faster than text by the human brain

So are you prepared? Content is still king, and visual content requires originality and thought. Make sure everything you post has something engaging to look at.  Visuals will cut through regular marketing speak, and original visuals can even stand out from other media of the same ilk. So charge your smartphone and grab your camera––you have some work to do!

Author: Zack Smith

RIP Google Reader, Bring On Social News

If you use the Internet to curate all of your news, then chances are you’ve used an RSS Feed backed by Google Reader. In that case, you are then well aware that Google is nixing Reader during its yearly spring-cleaning purge. Often, apps that bring in no revenue or have long since been abandoned are what get the axe, not a popular application used by millions. The public outcry was instantaneous, all with one unified question: Why are you doing this to me?

For those who are still a little confused about what Google Reader is and the importance it had for many industries, it was the service offered by Google that aggregated specified content into a single web feed. This allowed users to scan articles and find pieces of relevant content quickly and efficiently. In March, Google announced the end of the service by July, with no replacement service to offer as of yet, or so it seems.

The last couple of years, social search and crowdsourcing have become more and more common in our everyday lives. Every blog and news provider has social channels––most likely multiple channels––it posts to. With Google’s constant attempts to breach the social scene, this shouldn’t be a surprising announcement. What is a surprise, however, is how many people are opposed to the idea of using social media as their sole news driver, even though it caters to personal preferences, niche markets, and like-minded attitudes. Sites like Twitter have every potential to operate like a newsfeed, with the added bonus of real-time debates and sharing abilities. But for some reason, our customary agents of change from the tech industry are shouting that they like things the way they are.

Which is ridiculous. Especially because everyone should have seen this coming. The Pew Research Center found that over 93 million of Facebook’s 133 million active users use the social network to read the news their friends and family share, while another 31 million of these users get their news from dedicated news providers. That was in 2011. That same report showed that, of all the users of Twitter––still climbing the ranks to become one of the popular kids in the social circle––36% used their friends as news sources, but 45% used accounts from established news sources pushing their own content.

I must reiterate. That was two years ago. Since then, Google has been pushing for Google+ to be better integrated into the everyday person’s social sphere, mostly to little success. It wouldn’t be much of a surprise to see Reader pop up under a new guise in Google+, with the hopes of persuading people to use Google+ as their new RSS Feed/news aggregator. If you’re still in doubt, take a look at the last update Google Reader got in 2011. It was integration with Google+. Also two years ago.

This is not a shot in the dark, and it is almost certainly a very calculated move on the part of Google. Removing Google Reader is one move on the chessboard. Whatever Google plans on doing to remedy the current disappointment it dealt its loyal followers, you can be sure an answer will come before Google Reader cuts out for good.

Author: Zack Smith

Facebook News Feed Redesign

The great Facebook overlords have struck again. On March 7, it was announced that the News Feed section of a user’s Facebook page would be getting a redesign in the next couple of months. The third and final change promised in 2011, the News Feed redesign follows the introduction of Timeline and Graph Search.

Personally, I think the redesign of the News Feed is long overdue. As soon as Timeline was rolled out, the two layouts never matched up in design or function. Timeline was a complete overhaul of the previous layout, now favoring visual media over everything else. While that was great for individual user profiles, the separate News Feed to view everyone else’s content did not share that aesthetic. It was still clunky, text-heavy, and reminiscent of past designs. The new, media-heavy design will make the News Feed cohesive and organized as well as consistent across all devices.

The deeper reason for the redesign, however, is most likely to better display media from Facebook’s recent acquisitions, namely Instagram. Instagram accounts connected to Facebook will automatically post to users’ News Feeds. Facebook has also hinted at more developments like this in the future, possibly in the audio and video fields.

Regardless of Facebook’s intentions, it’s a very nice change and an overdue spring-cleaning for the social media site. Time will tell if it will help increase retention or subscriptions to the site or its partners. But in a world where things move quickly and everyone wants a piece of the market, it’s good to know Facebook is not just sitting on its hands.

To make the change more exclusive and to create a little stir, there is a waiting list to sign up for the slow rollout of the design. To be on the waiting list for the new News Feed design, sign up at :

https://www.facebook.com/about/newsfeed

Author: Zack Smith