Friday Wrap #25: Facebook’s brand page feed, a finger on Twitter’s pulse, the mobile-social link2012-11-16
(c) Can Stock PhotoThe Wrap is coming to you today from Old Saybrook, Connecticut. Client work wrapped up at noon, but my flight’s not until 7 p.m., so I’m ensconced in a guest office with nice, strong WiFi and an itch to summarize some of the most interesting posts and articles from the last seven days. If you ever want to see the complete listing of stories from which I’ve drawn the items in the Wrap, you’ll find it at LinksFromShel.tumblr.com.
Facebook brand page content gets its own feed
Marketers have howled in protest since Facebook jiggered its algorithm, reducing the number of updates that have found their way into the news feeds of people who have liked their pages. Facebook launched the Pages Feed on Wednesday, featuring only posts from pages you’ve liked and none from your friends. Want to stay current with the latest from the companies with which you have enough of an affinity to have liked their page? Click on over to the Pages Feed. It could be a challenge to get users to click on over to the feed, since it’s not the default feed that greets you when you visit Facebook. But if you’ve liked pages of brands that share useful content, the feed could become as regular a click as groups to which you belong. My first view of the feed included a new George Rodrigue Blue Dog painting (from the Visit Louisiana page), a local news update from a Bay Area news radio station, a behind-the-scenes photo from a rock band I follow (Umphrey’s McGee, in case you’re interested) and a Los Angeles Dodgers photo from 1974 of Mike Marshall sporting one hell of a mustache (in honor of Movember). If the quality of the content in the feed remains as interesting as it was today, I’ll most likely check it often. Tim Peterson, writing for Adweek, notes that an algorithm will still determine which posts show up: “Facebook will essentially weigh the page posts as they do any content to the regular News Feed, taking into account engagement signals to make sure the stream isn’t lame. Unlike the regular News Feed, however, users don’t have the option to toggle into seeing the Pages Only feed organized by most recent posts instead of only the top (read: best performing) stories.”
Putting a finger on Twitter’s pulse
SGI has developed a process the computing giant believes figures out what the general consensus among Twitter users is on any given topic. Working with University of Illinois researchers, the team analyzes the Twitter fire hose in order to hone in on the community’s real-time sentiment, the “global heartbeat,” writes C|Net‘s Rachel King. For example, she writes, “In the case of last week’s election, for example, SGI said that the heat maps showed the dynamics of intensity and location of tweets favorable to either President Barack Obama or Governor Mitt Romney over the course of November 6—from the first polls opening to after President Obama’s victory speech.” There’s a great speculative fiction novel, “Interface,” in which a presidential candidate is linked directly from his brain to the real-time responses of the population to what he’s saying in a speech. Given the SGI research, we may never need to wire chips into a candidate’s (or a brand manager’s) brain. Just let them watch the real-time Twitter sentiment heat map.
Half of people using social media connect via mobile
If the Asia-Pacific region is any kind of bellwether, pay attention to the uptake of mobile devices as the primary means of connecting to social media. While half of the world’s social network users connect from their smartphones and tablets, the number in APAC soars to 59 percent. According to Jon Russell, writing for The Next Web, “That’s notable, not just for passing the 50 percent threshold, but also because it is 12 percent higher than the global average and approaching double the 33 percent in Europe and the US.” APAC also has the highest proportion of smartphone users among those connected to the Net. The TNW piece draws several conclusions from the data from Nielsen, including the fact that people who own smartphones are tightly attached to them.
Brands embrace Instagram web profiles
The Wrap reported earlier that Instagram had introduced web-based profiles, expanding the reach of the images-sharing phenom from mobile only to the larger-screen web. Brands evidently love the idea. AdAge‘s Cotton Delo reports that brands appear “intrigued by the prospect of having a place to showcase their content in one place and possibly to direct users there from other media.” Among the companies fleshing out their web Instagram profiles: Sharpie, BMW and General Electric.
You can now send a tweet via email
Let’s see…we’ve covered Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest…how dare we leave Twitter out of the mix? Fear not, for Twitter has added a “Share Tweet Via Email” option so your pithy and informative 140-character-or-less missives can find their way to people who (gasp) don’t use Twitter. According to a TechCrunch report from John Constine, “The button appears in the ‘more’ menu alongside reply, favorite, and retweet.” The option is rolling out over the next few weeks.
Original sponsored content in the mainstream press may become an important outrach channel
PR professionals once relied on the mainstream media to serve as a key channel for getting the company’s messages to the public. Media relations efforts focus on convincing a reporter or editor that our story is worth telling. We provided journalists with access to execs and subject matter experts, answered questions, then crossed our fingers in hopes the final report served our interests. In the future, those same mainstream media outlets may be willing to take our money to let us run exactly the content we want, further blurring the already fuzzy lines between earned and paid media. The Boston Globe’s Boston.com site is the latest to jump on a growing trend some are calling “native advertising,” according to a Poynter Institute report by Jeff Sonderman. The article quotes the Globe’s head of business development, Thomas F.X. Cole, interviewed in an Ad Age piece: ““Our advertisers and particularly our smaller advertisers have been creating their own content. They need to get it exposed. As much as 50% of small businesses are blogging. The one thing they want is to have people see their material.” Other publishers, including Forbes, BuzzFeed, and The Atlantic, are accepting payment to publish sponsored content under clearly labeled headings (“Insights” is the label for Boston.com’s sponsored content). Journalists and critics will most likely take issue with the practice, but as it gets harder and harder to get exposure for our companies’ and clients’ stories, paying to have our posts, articles and other content published by a widely-read news organization could be well worth the cost.
Pinterest unveils accounts and tools for businesses
Businesses wasted no time jumping on the Pinterest bandwagon, but were limited to the same types of accounts and tools everybody else used. Until now, that is. The company has introduced a new set of resources designed specifically to improve businesses’ ability to take advantage of the crazy-fast-growing image-sharing/bookmarking site. Businesses can now set up an account under the business name and display a verification badge on their profile page. If your company already has an account, you can easily convert to the new format. Pinterest has also created a microsite highlighting business best practices, according to Lauren Indvik, writing for Mashable.
Apple introduces employee perks. Steve Jobs would not be happy
I am not a member of the Church of Jobs. Apple’s late iconic leader did have a huge impact on the world. But (in my view) he did it based on doing just a couple of things extremely well. In the context of all the dimensions of great leadership, though, those couple of things did not automatically make him a great leader. On his death, all the fervent insistence that “I’ll run my business like Jobs did” set my teeth on edge. Really? Ruling by fear is how you want to run your business? One of Jobs’ beliefs was that employees shouldn’t get corporate benefits. Current CEO Tim Cook evidently has a different view. He has introduced employee discounts for company products and a charitable giving matching program. (Jobs didn’t believe in charitable giving, either, by the way.) Cook is also praising employees at public events, something else Jobs sneered at, according to Jessica Lessin in a Wall Street Journal piece. But wait, there’s more. Writes Lessin: “Earlier this year, Apple told some employees about a new initiative called “Blue Sky” that allows a small group of staffers to spend a few weeks on a pet engineering project, according to three people told about the program. It is a more limited version of similar initiatives for hatching new ideas that have long existed in Silicon Valley. The most well-known of those is Google’s ‘20% time,’ which allows employees to spend up to a fifth of their time on projects outside their normal responsibilities. The idea was previously anathema at Apple. The Cupertino, Calif., company is known for organizing teams around a few focused projects that come from the top. Employees have often griped about the lack of leeway.” Given the dramatic fall in Apple’s share price, Cook has to do something. If he keeps this kind of change going, I may even be willing to buy Apple products again.
Remember Quora? It’s still around, and now it’s real-time, too
Quora—the social system for getting expert answers to questions—is thriving, even if it earns a mere fraction of the attention it got when it was new. In order to accelerate its efforts, Quora has introduced “Online Now,” which lets users connect with people who are available at that precise moment to answer questions in their wheelhouse. “With 25 percent of the site’s traffic coming from mobile devices,” write The Next Web‘s Ken Yeung, “the company is heavily interested in speeding up the process — let’s face it, if you want to see a particular movie and want to know how good it is, you might ask the community on Quora, but you don’t want to wait several minutes to get a response, you want it right away. Online Now hopes to help accomplish that.”
Hospital communicators: Does your hospital block employee access to social media?
The Mayo Clinic Center for Social Media wants to know. The results of a quick survey will be used in a Center white paper and toolkit designed to help hospital communicators get their employees’ access unblocked. You can read about the effort on Ed Bennett’s Found in Cache blog. More important, take the survey. (Disclosure: I’m a member of the Center’s external advisory board.)