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Facebook's Move to Dial Back News Ratchets Up Drama
January 17, 2018
Facebook once again has found itself at the center of a media storm, following Mark Zuckerberg's recent announcement of plans to shift its focus away from news and business content and toward interactions between friends and family. The shift follows more than a year of heavy criticism directed against Facebook, including blame for failing to combat fake news during the 2016 presidential election.
5 Ways E-Commerce SMBs Can Cool Social Media Complaints
January 6, 2018
SMBs should "be proactive and ready to help [customers] right at the moment they need it," said Linda Crawford, CEO of Helpshift. Companies must streamline support systems to resolve issues faster and more efficiently, she said. An up-to-date knowledge base enables instant self-service, "but SMBs must also offer channels for customers to communicate directly with support agents."
Big Players Scored in the E-Commerce Battles of 2017
January 2, 2018
Moves that allowed major e-commerce players to jockey for position both off and on the Internet made headlines in 2017. "The year was a triumph for market leaders," said Mike Comstock, a senior adviser at GrandCanals. "Leading companies like Amazon, Target and Walmart just got stronger, as they have the resources to either build or buy whatever they need to win."
Snapchat Draws Bright Line Between 'Social' and 'Media'
November 30, 2017
Snap aims to combat fake news on Snapchat by separating content from professional creators from postings by friends and family. Stories and Chats from friends will appear on the left side of the camera, while Stories from content creators, publishers and other members of the community will appear on the right side. Snapchat aims to disentangle "social" from "media," noted Snap CEO Evan Spiegel.
Report Probes Social Media's Threat to Democracy
October 13, 2017
Social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter and YouTube may pose a threat to American democracy, suggests a new report from The Omidyar Group. The report follows recent disclosures about targeted dark post advertising, fake news and other abuses propagated by Russian troll farms during the 2016 election. Among the questions the report raises is whether the U.S. government may need to step in.
FTC Tightens Screws on Social Media Influencers
October 12, 2017
Social media influencer advertising has become a major factor in e-commerce. Marketers of both big and small brands long have committed large chunks of their advertising budgets to endorsements by well-known personalities. Social media influencer campaigns are based on that tried-and-true formula, but the implication is that the endorsements are voluntary.
5 Ways to Use Snapchat to Target Millennials
September 18, 2017
Once just a hangout for teenagers, Snapchat has matured into an engaging and effective social media platform. If you're trying to reach a younger demographic, it's somewhere you probably want to be. "Snapchat is the best channel to reach young people, as they count for more than two-thirds of its audience and are very active users," said Melissa Sanchot, head of marketing at MakeMeReach.
Facebook Adds Hardware, Software Vetting and 4K to 360 Live
July 26, 2017
Facebook has announced several updates to its live-streaming platform, including a new hardware and software vetting program used to create 360-degree video. Through its new Live 360 Ready Program, Facebook will review hardware and software and approve products that work well with its Live 360 offering. Products deemed "ready" for Live 360 will be allowed to display a Facebook Live logo.
SEO, SEM Rule Retailers' Marketing Budgets
July 21, 2017
Retailers have been focusing on technologies to measure and assess customer response, and have been using the data they produce to drive e-commerce decisions, suggests a study of 136 enterprise retailers. Enterprise retailers with at least $500 million in annual revenues participated in the study, which was a joint effort of Adam Software, an Aprimo company; WBR Digital; and ChannelAdvisor.
Facebook Launches 'Discover Growth' Global B2B Ad Campaign
July 20, 2017
Facebook on Wednesday launched "Discover Growth," a global ad campaign targeting B2B marketers. The 30-day U.S. ad campaign, which will target direct-response marketers as well as traditional brands, will run both on and off the Facebook platform. The on-platform campaign reportedly will consist of one ad per day on Facebook, Instagram and the Facebook Audience Network.
Hootsuite Adds New Social Selling Tool
June 21, 2017
Hootsuite on Monday launched Amplify for Selling, a mobile-first solution that helps sales teams succeed on social by generating leads and fostering revenue-driving relationships. The new tool is an extension of Hootsuite's Amplify employee advocacy product, which is focused on the business-to-business market. Amplify for Selling integrates with Salesforce and Microsoft Dynamics CRM.
Burger King Ad Creates Whopper of a Mess for Google Home
April 13, 2017
Burger King in essence hijacked the voice-activated Google Home speakers in some consumers' homes. In a 15-second television ad, the camera zooms in on a young man wearing the company uniform who says, "OK Google, what is the Whopper burger?" The trigger phrase for Google's AI Assistant activated Home speakers situated nearby, prompting them to read Wikipedia's description of the Whopper.
WhatsApp Field-Trials Business Chat
March 14, 2017
WhatsApp reportedly has been conducting tests of a business chat system with a number of companies that are part of the Y Combinator startup incubator. The API gives companies a direct line of communication with WhatsApp users. WhatsApp CEO Jan Koum last year said the company would seek to monetize the free chat service by providing businesses with direct access to consumers.
Social Marketing Grows Up
February 23, 2017
Before there was experimental data to support various contentions, it made perfect sense to believe that the likes and endorsements posted to friends on social media would drive more business. After all, didn't we all subscribe to the idea that a disgruntled customer would tell many more people about a brand's shortcomings than a happy customer would sing its praises?
Medium Slashes Staff, Aims to Fix 'Broken' Model
January 6, 2017
Medium, the once-promising platform led by Twitter cofounder Ev Williams, is losing about a third of its workforce and will undergo a radical overhaul to fix what the CEO called a "broken" business model -- advertising-supported online publishing. Williams touted the company's successes in a post announcing the layoffs, but said that change was needed to address several major business shortfalls.
Fact-Checking Social Content
December 1, 2016
There's an argument that it's not Facebook's job to fact-check the growing flood of fake news coming at us through its portal. After all, Facebook is just a set of pipes delivering something and is not responsible for the content. Nebulous others have that responsibility. However, Facebook is in the business of delivering content to a wide variety of people for a multitude of reasons.
Facebook AI Digs Deep Into User Content
June 3, 2016
Facebook on Wednesday introduced DeepText, an artificial intelligence-fueled text analytics engine. "Text is a prevalent form of communication on Facebook," wrote Facebook software engineers Ahmad Abdulkader, Aparna Lakshmiratan and Joy Zhang in a post describing its capabilities. "Understanding the various ways text is used on Facebook can help us improve people's experiences with our products."
Crafting an Online Strategy, Part 4: Homegrown Marketing
April 27, 2016
As a maker in an e-commerce world, you have to get the word out about what you're creating. Whether you're crafting candles or jewelry, marketing leads to sales. It's one thing to set up a booth at a craft fair and meet customers face to face, but it's another thing entirely to market online. Becoming comfortable with digital marketing techniques needs to be one of your primary priorities.
Sports Fans and Social Media, Part 2: Perils, Pitfalls and Best Practices
April 22, 2016
This fall will see a 10-game pilot of professional football streamed on social media -- Twitter, to be specific. It's a continuation of the NFL's search for gold in the veins of digital broadcasting and an opportunity for sports brands to forge new and deeper relations with fans. For teams looking to bolster their brands, social networks have evolved into a critical channel.
Chatbots Drive Shopify's Kit CRM Deal
April 15, 2016
Shopify on Wednesday announced that it has agreed to purchase Kit CRM, whose Kit chatbot automatically sends out marketing text messages for online stores. It also lets businesses run targeted ads on Facebook and Instagram, make recommendations based on store activities, post on social media and use functionality provided by other social media apps, Shopify CMO Craig Miller said.
Oculus' Controversial ToS a Stark Reminder of Its Facebook Parentage
April 4, 2016
Oculus last week updated its terms of service to accompany the release of the Oculus Rift virtual reality headset, raising privacy and content ownership concerns. Software will be installed to monitor how the device is used, and the usage data will be sent back to Oculus and its parent company, Facebook, according to the terms of service. Collected data could be shared with third parties.
For Many Users, Instagram Algorithm Is Not a Pretty Picture
March 30, 2016
Instagram on Monday moved to calm concerns among some users about a proposed change in the way content appears in their feeds. Celebrities such as Kylie Jenner and Cindy Crawford fueled the anxiety by urging their followers to enable a feature on their mobile devices that would notify them whenever those celebrities post to Instagram. The company assured users that their feed weren't changing yet.
Scientists Track Sloshed Tweeters in Real Time
March 21, 2016
Applied machine learning techniques can identify tweeters' behaviors in real time and locate them to within 100 meters, according to a paper Rochester University computer scientists published earlier this month. The team focused on discovering patterns of alcohol use in urban and suburban settings to better understand where and how people drink.
Instagram's New Algorithm Promises Most Favorable Sorting
March 17, 2016
Instagram on Tuesday announced plans to dump chronological posts in favor of algorithmic recommendations. Users miss about 70 percent of the content that flows through their feeds, which the company attributed to its growth and its system for ordering content. The new algorithm, which will begin rolling out in the coming months, will weigh the content by relevancy to the user.
A Future Without Work?
March 17, 2016
Periodically, a blatantly silly idea gains currency, spreading throughout society, and it has one of two effects: Either it scares the heck out of people, or they become enraptured with its seeming plausibility. Last week, The New York Times published a piece set as a dialog between two economics writers, titled, "A Future Without Jobs?" I thought it fell into the silly category.
Generation Customer: Defined by Attitude, Not Age
March 7, 2016
I hate the idea of chopping our population into generations: the Greatest Generation, the baby boomers, Generation X, Generation Y, millennials and so on. The assumption is that everyone born during an arbitrarily selected time period shares certain traits. It also results in people projecting ideas -- often romantic ones -- onto huge groups of people.
Facebook May Launch Risky Messenger Ad Program
February 22, 2016
Facebook has been preparing to push personalized ads through its Messenger app, according to a report last week. The company will allow brands to send their own marketing materials through the popular chat app, suggests a leaked document apparently intended for Facebook's advertising partners. The changes could go into effect during the second quarter of the year.
Facebook Takes On Yelp, Angie's List
January 2, 2016
Facebook recently launched a service for members that provides recommendations and ratings on shops and service providers, a move that puts it in direct competition with Yelp. The tool provides star ratings on local service providers, including doctors, veterinarians and event planners. Users can leave references that detail their experiences with merchants or service providers.
Forecasting 2016
December 23, 2015
My favorite Boston FM radio DJ was Charles Laquidara, who would end his show with the words, "If the creek don't rise, if the good Lord's willing, if there ain't no meltdown, we'll do it all over again tomorrow right here on The Biiiiig Mattress!" It impressed me that even one day out, he'd caveat his prediction of being there tomorrow. Unlike my hero, I will attempt to forecast the year ahead.
CRM Predictions: Spotting the Critical Connections
December 22, 2015
At this time of the year, there's a clamoring among the business publishing class for predictions. That is partly because prediction stories are considered easy to write, and once they're done the staff can go celebrate the holidays while their publication continues to deliver content. However, having written a lot of prediction stories in the past, I can tell you that they are not easy to write.
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Will Facebook be able to fix social media's biggest problems?
Yes, its return to emphasizing close relationships is a good start.
No, its efforts aren't sincere -- it only cares about its bottom line.
Yes, but only through a huge, sustained education effort.
No, people -- not the platform -- are the problem.
Yes, the problems are wildly exaggerated -- there's not much to fix.
No, and it's too big to fail, so the problems will only get worse.