Friday Wrap #170: Overtime rule hits worker mobile use, EgyptAir’s media warning, videos go silent

Friday Wrap #170The Friday Wrap is my weekly collection of news stories, posts, studies, and reports designed to help organizational communicators stay current on the trends and technology that affect their jobs. These may be items that flew under the radar while other stories grabbed big headlines. As always, I collect material from which I select Wrap stories (as well as stories to report on the For Immediate Release podcast, along with stuff I just want to remember to read) on my link blog, which you’re welcome to follow. If you want to make sure you never miss an edition of the Wrap, subscribe to my weekly email briefing.


Media belittles Buffalo Bills’ social media policy—Credentialed reporters got a look at the new social media policy for the NFL’s Buffalo Bills. The policy “limits what information reporters can relay during training camp and practices, including plays, strategies, formations, what groups players are practicing in, and specific plays like dropped passes, incomplete passes, and interceptions.” Reporters ridiculed the policy and tweeted reports that belittled the policy. For example: “The last pass of day by a quarterback not named Taylor or Jones was intercepted by a player wearing a jersey with the absolute value of -50.” The takeaway: Introducing an unreasonably restrictive social media policy will get you more bad publicity than you’d get from letting the press report what they see (which they’ll do anyway). Don’t go down that road. Read more

Smartphone policies must change in light of new overtime rules—Companies need to create or change their device management policies in the wake of a new overtime rule announced by the U.S. Department of Labor. Under the rule, millions of employees who were previously exempt from overtime will be eligible for it when the law kicks in later this year. Employees who access work-related material from their phones during off hours would need to be compensated. Experts say companies should expect lawsuits from employees who aren’t being paid for all the hours they work. This is problematic given the growth in use of apps for collaboration and other work purposes. In fact, studies show that employees who use smartphones put in more hours. The takeaway: The new rule complicates the already gray area created with the ability to use apps for work purposes. When it comes to mobile devices, the rule is frustrating on a number of levels. Nobody ever asked to be compensated for the time it took to read the company magazine at home. Read more

Facebook changes Trending Topics policies—In the face of criticism over unproven allegations that human curators kept politically conservative stories out of Trending Topics, Facebook has dropped the use of a top-10 list of approved websites, introduced new training for curators, and established clearer guidelines for human editors. An internal review found no evidence of political bias. The takeaway: One person anonymously claims bias and everyone goes nuts. That’s the world we live in. Read more

EgyptAir warns the press to “abide by official press releases”—A press release from EgyptAir, whose flight MS804 crashed in the Mediterranean, has warned media against any speculation or reporting based on third-party information. The press release said, “ETYPTAIR Calls for media resources to be assured of the information they post or release and to abide by the official press releases issued by EGYPTAIR media center.” The message also appeared on the company’s website. The takeaway: If ever there was a statement from a company that would produce the opposite of the intended result, this was it. Never tell a reporter what sources they can use…unless you want them to think you’re hiding something. Read more

Idiot’s Guide introduces how-to articles you can create The Idiot’s Guides—publishers of those ubiquitous yellow-covered books on every topic imaginable—has opened the door for anybody claiming expertise to craft articles for its website. The “Quick Guides” creates an opportunity for content marketing. The takeaway: From new articles from your organization’s subject matter experts to repurposed content that you’ve already created, Quick Guides is something your organization should explore. Read more

Marketers benefit from Twitter’s new character-count rules—Twitter’s gift of more characters in a tweet is being greeted with delight by advertisers and marketers. The count is still 140 characters, but links to media files (videos and images) no longer count against the limit, adding 24 characters to a tweet. Twitter also dropped the rule that hides tweets beginning with an “@” symbol (only shared followers of the sender and recipient saw it), so the arcane practice of putting a period before the “@” will no longer be necessary to ensure a wider audience, and Twitter handles won’t count against the 140-character limit. Some worry that this opens the door to Twitter spam, since any user can now add up to 50 Twitter handles to a single tweet, though the ability to add all those handles applies only to participants in a Twitter chain (that is, only those already participating in a conversation). Any new handles added will count against the limit. The takeaway: Expect to spend less time rewriting tweets so they’ll fit the limit. Good news all around. This could also mean the rapid demise of link-shorteners. If links don’t count against the character limit, why bother shortening them? Read more

Podcast company introduces paid subscriptions—Getting podcasts only to those who have subscribed has been a complicated matter, though long-term players like Libsyn do offer solutions. Now, podcast app and ad network Acast has introduced a service that lets podcasters sell subscriptions without advertising. Podcasts set a price using Acast+, then share the revenue with the company. The product could be used for podcasters to provide bonus content to subscribers, though celebrities may sell their content to fans. The takeaway: Don’t expect your favorite podcasts to suddenly cost you. Advertising and sponsorship will remain the primary source of podcast revenue for the time being. The idea of asking listeners to pay for bonus content, though, has merit. Read more

Creating a 24/7 webcam just got easier—Facebook Live video feature now allows for non-stop, long-form broadcasting. The Continues Live Video API will let users stream things that used to require more complex setups (like a non-stop look at a beach, an eagle’s nest, or Jerusalem’s Wailing Wall).  The takeaway: There could be a lot of good business uses here. Want to see just how crowded the emergency room is or how long the lines are at airport security? Companies that hadn’t considered 24-hour streaming might look at the opportunities to provide visual information to customers or even just mindless entertainment. (I’ve always enjoyed the webcam on New Orleans’ Bourbon Street, but resorts can keep a camera trained on its beachfront or other appealing parts of their properties.) Read more


85% of Facebook video is watched with the audio off—If you’re uploading videos to Facebook that make no sense without the audio, it’s time to rethink your strategy. Up to 85% of videos watched on Facebook are watched without audio. A lot of publishers recognize this and are producing videos that can be consumed without sound. The takeaway: As people get more accustomed to silent videos, the form will evolve and expand to other platforms (like Twitter). It’s time to experiment! Read more

A look at social media statistics—A roundup of stats paints a picture of social media’s place in the world, and it’s a pretty big place. About 45% of the world population has Internet access—about 3 billion—and 2.1 billion have social media accounts, with 1.7 billion active with those accounts. Most of those—1.5 billion—are on Facebook. YouTube is the second largest social network, followed by Instagram and (you may want to sit down for this one) Google+. Twitter comes in fifth, with 316 million active users, followed by Tumblr. Snapchat has been added to the list with 200 million active users, followed by Pinterest with 100 million and LinkedIn with 97 million. Each of these sites has the most active users they have ever had, with overall growth of the user base at 9.3%, down from 12.5% in 2015. The takeaway: We are reaching a saturation point with social media growth; there just aren’t that many more people to add. Read more

Podcast audience continues to grow—21% of Americans have listened to a podcast in the last month, according to “The Podcast Consumer 2016,” up four points from last year’s study, and 55% are aware of the term, up six points. The annual study from Edison Research and Triton Digital, also found 36% of Americans have ever listened to a podcast (up three points). 13% of Americans listen to podcasts weekly, according to the study, and the average podcast listeners consumes between 1 and 3 hours of podcasts every week. Podcasts represent 2% of all audio Americans consume; AM/FM radio still gets most of our audio attention (54%) with owned music at 16% and streaming audio at 15%. Among those who listen to podcasts, however, podcasts represent 32% of the audio consumed—that is, for 21% of Americans, podcasts make up 32% of their audio consumption, with AM/FM radio coming in second at 25%. Podcast consumption is growing across all age demographics, with Americans ages 12-24 representing most listening (27%), but the 25-54 age group is close behind (24%). Men listen more than women (24% vs. 18%) and podcast listeners are affluent, with 15% of the audience earning a median $10,000 more annually than the general U.S. population. Podcast listeners are also highly educated. Smartphones are the primary means by which listeners consume their podcasts; 71% use phones compared to only 29% who listen at their computers, up seven points from 2015. Podcast listeners are also more apt to follow companies and brands on social media, 47% among podcasters compared to only 28% for everyone else. The takeaway: Podcast consumption continues its steady, incremental climb and shows no sign of leveling off. The audience is desirable. If you haven’t considered a brand or company podcast before, you might want to give it some thought now. Read more

Emotions that make content go viral identified—Research from Sorbonne University and Trento Rise have identified the key emotions that viral content evokes and determined the emotions themselves don’t determine virality, but rather where they fall in the Valence-Arousal-Dominance (VAD) model, a standard model in psychology circles. Valence is the positivity or negativity of an emotion, arousal ranges from excitement to relaxation, and dominance is the degree of control perceived. Readers of 65,000 articles on two news sites assigned emotional scores to the articles they read, enabling researchers to identify patterns among viral stories. The study found articles with a lot of comments evoked high-arousal emotions (e.g., anger, happiness) coupled with low-dominance emotions (that is, readers felt less in control and may have felt fear). Meanwhile, social sharing “was very connected to feelings of high dominance, where the reader feels in control, such as inspiration or admiration.” The takeaway: Solid research here that can be used to craft content to produce the kind of engagement you’re looking for. Read more

Most 15-18-year-olds have experienced incivility online—A young woman who told a TV reporter she suffered depression over her veterinary job, which included euthanizing dogs, committed suicide recently after she was subjected to a barrage of hate online. That kind of incivility is increasingly common, with 88% of 15-18-year-olds indicating they have experienced it online. The sixth Civility in America report from Weber Shandwick, Powell Tate, and KRC Research focused on that age group, two-thirds of which sees the Internet and social media as the root cause of incivility, far more than any other source. The takeaway: This is why we can’t have nice things. Organizations exist to combat incivility online, but haven’t made a dent. Read more

The sharing economy infiltrates day-to-day life—72% of Americans have used a shared or on-demand online service, demonstrating that shared, collaborative, and on-demand services have infiltrated the digital economy. Some 20% have used four or more of the 11 kinds of services the Pew Research Center studied, and 7% have used six or more. The takeaway: Legacy businesses will need to explore how they can offer their products or services in ways consistent with new consumer behaviors, and communicators ill be tasked with explaining and promoting those channels. Read more

The value of employee engagement—We have long assumed engaged employees are more productive, but new research indicates organizations with a large population of engaged employees are twice as successful as lower-engaged companies. They also experience less absenteeism and turnover, and employees produce higher-quality work, are healthier, and have fewer safety incidents. The takeaway: Building engagement cannot be viewed as mollycoddling employees. It’s a competitive business strategy, and internal communications has as big a role to play in building engagement as any other staff function. Read more


We get most of our news from social media platforms—A majority of Americans—62%—are increasingly using social media platforms as their news sources. Facebook is the leading source, with 66% of its users getting their news there, up from 47% when Pew conducted a similar study in 2013. 70% of Reddit’s smaller user base turn to the crowdsourced news site for news, and 59% of Twitter users say they get their news there, up from 52% in 2013. The takeaway: Publish your news via social media. The days of using social media primarily to drive traffic to your own site are over. Read more

Brands become documentarians—The rise of on-demand video platforms like Netflix, Amazon Prime, and Hulu has led advertisers to turn to branded documentaries as a means of reaching consumers who are tuning out (or blocking) traditional advertising. Among the brands embracing the documentary form are Kellogg’s, MAC Cosmetics, Kleenex, Vizio, and Gatorade. The takeaway: How long ago did Tom Foremski proclaim that every company needed to become a media company? The move toward documentary production is further proof that Tom was right. Read more

The mashup trend continues unabated—This time around, it’s Twitter and Spotify. You’ll now be able to listen to 30-second previews of songs via Twitter’s audio cards, which now support Spotify. The takeaway: Bringing music to Twitter could increase its appeal. Read more

Taboola hopes to save journalism from Facebook—As media companies grow more dependent on social platforms (mostly Facebook), Taboola hopes to offer an alternative, though journalists are skeptical of the content discovery tool’s claim that it can help save journalism. Taboola, valued at $1 billion, is working to become “a full-service platform to provide publishers with a wealth of data and customization options from the one billion users it claims to reach.” Other startups are also cropping up hoping to “balance out the growing dominance of Facebook.” The takeaway: The media landscape is in the greatest state of flux it has ever seen and the future is murky. For now, syndicating your content across as many platforms as possible represents the best bet for reaching as many of your audience as possible. Read more

Mobile, Wearables, and Chatbots

Florist bets big on chatbots— has made a big move to encourage customers to place their orders via chatbots and voice-based technologies. The gift retailer introduced a Facebook Messenger bot that “will interact with customers using natural language” and “offer customers the ease and convenience of ordering floral gifts through Messenger.” The bot has been integrated with live customer service support in order to improve ease and speed of use. The company also introduced order delivery via Amazon’s Echo, Dot, Tap, and Fire TV devices—which are chatbots that function with voice tech. IBM’s Watson manages the natural language interaction for Gwyn (Gifts When You Need), in beta since May 3. The takeaway: This is one of the fastest-growing trends ever. Get up to speed on bots as soon as you can, since you’ll be using them—as a consumer and a communicator—sooner than you think. Read more

JPMorgan Chase took to Snapchat for recruiting college grads—Last weekend, if you were near a college campus, you may have seen JPMorgan Chase dominating your Snapchat feed. The campaign to honor college graduates was part of a recruitment plan. The “Graduation Live Story” included ads from JPMorgan, as did the live stories from 80 campuses. Ads also appeared in several Discover channels. The 10-second ads “showcase students’ various skills that could be applicable to a job at the bank.” The takeaway: As a JPMorgan Chase spokesperson said, “You have to reach people where they are, and they’re on Snapchat. And students in particular live on Snapchat. It’s becoming one of the most powerful platforms for brands.” Messaging apps are overtaking social networks in popularity. It’s still social media, but most brands haven’t figured it out yet. Read more

Virtual and Augmented Reality

Here comes VR onboarding—The process of onboarding a new employee could begin before the employee’s first day thanks to Virtual Reality and the inexpensive Google Cardboard VR headset that costs between $15 and $40. “You send (the new hire) Cardboard, have them download the appropriate app, and then insert their smartphone into Cardboard,” writes Mike Haberman, noting that the experience would be consistent for all new hires but also customized for each employee. New hires could also be introduced to the tools they’ll be using on the job or the processes with which they’ll need to get familiar. The takeaway: The more we get accustomed to VR, the more practical uses we’ll find. I’m still waiting for the first media request for VR B-roll. Read more

eBay opens VR Department Store—eBay’s Virtual Reality Department Store lets customers browse through collections of different categories of products as if they were physically in the store. The takeaway: This is what people were talking about with Second Life. It just took VR headsets and the rising popularity of the technology to make it real. Read more

This week’s Wrap image is of an effort by firefighters to save western writer Zane Grey’s historic cabin from wildfires along the Rogue River in Oregon. The image is courtesy of the Flickr account of The Bureau of Land Management.