Friday Wrap #97: Trading your legal rights for likes, CAPTCHA’s failings, Facebook algorithm change

Friday Wrap #97The Friday Wrap is a summary of posts and articles from the past week that didn’t get the big headlines (like the tale of US Airways’ pornographic tweet and the employee who sent it who wasn’t fired). These are reports and studies that may have skipped by under your radar, yet still could be useful or interesting to communicators and marketers. I collect the stories from which I assemble the Wrap at my link blog, which you’re welcome to follow at LinksFromShel.


Like a Facebook page, give up your rights—General Mills has revised the terms of service on its website. Now, according to the language, a customer that downloads a coupon,  joins it on Facebook or other social networks, or enters a sweepstakes or contest agrees by doing so to relinquish their right to sue the company. A customer engaging in any of these activities who finds himself at odds with the company will “have to use informal negotiation via email or go through arbitration to seek relief,” according to The New York Times. The alteration to the terms followed a judge’s refusal to dismiss a case. If more companies follow suit, and consumers become broadly aware of the practice, there could be a massive decline in likes of company pages, further hampering marketers’ plans to reach such self-identifying fans. Read more

Facebook tweaks its news feed algorithm again—The latest adjustment to the formula that determines what does and doesn’t make it into a Facebook user’s news feed is aimed at misleading links, request-for-like stories (also known as “likebait”) and reshared content. “Ultimately, they’re designed to penalizes pages and marketers who attempt to manufacture the spread of their content either by soliciting likes and comments, or by trying to pull a bait-and-switch with links that direct people to Web sites that are primarily ads,” according to C|Net. Read more

Google demonstrates just how worthless CAPTCHA is—CAPTCHA are those squiggly, hard-to-read word-and-letter combinations you have to enter in order to submit a comment or take other action on a website. Designed to keep bots from flooding a site with unwanted promotions, CAPTCHA has become an online mainstay. But Google was able to use the technology it applies to reading street addresses obtained by its Street View teams to thwart CAPTCHA. In a test, the company beat CAPTCHAs with 99.8% accuracy. If your site depends on CAPTCHA, it’s time to start exploring alternatives. Read more


Facebook and Twitter most used by social-savvy brands—The 20 most social-savvy brands had an average of some 14.5 million Facebook fans 1.9 million Twitter followers last month, according to finds from Socialbakers. These companies also had more than 500,000 YouTube subscribers. These brands posted to Facebook an average of 52 times during the month, sent 174 tweets, and uploaded 19 videos to YouTube. The MediaPost article didn’t elaborate on how the analytics firm identified the 20 most social-savvy brands. Read more

Highest-value social traffic comes from YouTube, Google+ and LinkedIn—Based on a six-month analysis of social data, analytics firm Sharehaholic determined that YouTube, Google+ and LinkedIn drive the most engaged traffic. “Social Referrals That Matter” labled YouTube the “undisputed champion” of high-quality social referrals, driving the highest-value online traffic. “These referrals have the lowest average bounce rate (43.19%), the highest pages per visit (2.99) and the longest visit duration (227.82 seconds),” according to FierceCMO. Read more

Most social engagement happens on mobile devices—Facebook and other big social networks are getting more traffic and time spent on their sites from mobile devices than from desktops. “Only LinkedIn and Tumblr maintain a majority share on desktop, while newer social networks such as Instagram, Snapchat and Vine are almost exclusively mobile,” according to comScore. Read more

Monitoring customers on Instagram just got easier—A social analytics company has added an Instagram analaytics tool to its suite, which includes “detailed participant reporting,” making it easy for brands to track their biggest fans on Instagram. “Brands will be able to create timelines depicting the comments and likes from each fan, a heat map of when each fan comments and likes, and breakdowns of how often those fans engage with the brand,” according to Mashable. “In essence, brands will be able to pinpoint their biggest fans, helping them plan and execute their Instagram strategy.” Union Metrics is also the company behind TweetReach. Read more


Wearables find their way into the workplace—I speculated a few months ago that wearables would attain their first wave of acceptance at work. The first signs of that trend are making an appearance in corporate wellness programs, which are adopting tools like the Nike Fuelband and the Fitbit. BP and Autodesk are among the companies adopting the technology in an effort to improve employees’ health (which comes with added benefits of improved productivity and lower healthcare costs). Read more

Social media prompts agencies to adopt newsroom model—The faster pace required to keep up with and respond to social media has led an increasing number of advertising agencies to hire former journalists and employ a newsroom model. By way of example, a Wall Street Journal article introduces former journalist Caitlin Francke, whose job as VP and social strategy director at Publicis Kaplan Thaler includes running the agency’s Newsdesk. Some 50 employees—social strategists, creative staffers and others—“monitors social media for eight clients and looks for opportunities for a marketer to jump in on a conversation in real-time.” Such newsrooms are becoming a standard part of many agencies’ operations. Read more

PR agencies tapping into holding companies’ data streams—Big data is finding its way into PR, with agencies that belong to holding companies finding that their parent and peer companies are a rich source. Weber Shandwick, for example, is part of Interpublic Group, which also owns Mediabrands, which built a system to let other Interpublic companies access its tools and data. “Now Weber Shandwick can access data down to ZIP codes and geography, and is using Mediabrands’ data to identify and target audiences, as well as study how exposure to earned and social-content prompts behavior like buying habits.” Weber Shandwick isn’t alone. Cohn & Wolfe as banded together with other WPP companies to form the Data Alliance, a centralized group that “brokers deals and partnerships between its members hosp and its data-rich operations,” while Ketchum is gobbling up data from parent Omnicom. Read more

Business owners fight back against anonymous online reviews—Joe Hadeed claims seven anonymous reviews of his business posted to Yelp are fraudulent, since they don’t syn ch up with the time, location or sales data he maintains. Nevertheless, the reviews damaged his business, he says, resulting in a lawsuit against Yelp that will be heard later this month by the U.S. Supreme Court. While Yelp maintains the posts are protected free speech, Hadeed’s case is just one example of business owners trying to wrest some control back from the anonymous mob. Read more


Lack of APIs makes Instagram marketing a manual process—Brands use tools like social media management systems (SMMS) to manage their publishing across multiple social sites, Instagram has yet to release any of the APIs that make such automation possible. As a result, publishing to Instagram requires brands to use the same processes individuals do, while SMMS providers like Expion, Sprinklr and Salesforce remain unable to integrate Instagram into their offerings. Marketers also point to Pinterest, another image-centric social network with no APIs, though it evidently doesn’t represent as much of a pain point for brands as Instagram. Read more