Friday Wrap #168: A Facebook milestone, lower brand engagement, VR for B2B, cats on Periscope

Friday Wrap #168
Flickr photo of leftovers in a foil swan courtesy of Sean Freese

The 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.


One billion people access Facebook in a single day—Talk about your milestones. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced on Thursday that one billion people used Facebook in a single day—that’s 1 out of every 7 people on the planet. The takeaway: You’re still resisting Facebook? Really? Look, you may not like it, but avoiding it is like avoiding print 35 years ago because you didn’t like the way the paper felt on your fingers. Read more

Twitter and Facebook were fast at deleting shooter’s video—When the murderer of two journalists in Roanoke, Virginia posted a video of his act to Facebook and Twitter, the two services moved swiftly to remove it, preventing it from being more broadly distributed. The video was yanked by both services, and the shooter’s accounts closed, within mere minutes. The takeaway: Social media services are maturing as demonstrated by the fast action taken to prevent the sensationalization of the killer’s video, which he apparently planned to go viral. It only takes a few minutes, though, for a video to be copied and shared, which did happen in this case. Still, the fast action prevented it from being even worse. Read more

Autoplay in crosshairs after Virginia shooting—Videos of the Roanoke, Virginia shooting—both the clip from the TV station’s live broadcast and the murderer’s video—were uploaded natively by a lot of people to Twitter and Facebook, both of which support autoplay. That led to pushback from some quarters about whether some videos should be excluded from autoplay. The takeaway: This debate will have little impact on brands, since autoplay was really developed with brand video in mind. But you may need to set a video to autoplay sometime in the future, rather than have it happen by default upon upload, if the case against automatic autoplay gains steam. Read more

Facebook launches Siri competitor—Facebook has started testing M, a personal digital assistant that will reside within the Messenger app. M (originally named Moneypenny) will be powered by both human and artificial intelligence. It will answer questions and deliver information, along with making purchases and booking appointments. It’s the task-completion element that sets M apart from other digital assistants like Siri, Google Now, and Cortana. The takeaway: Personal computing is moving closer and closer to Star Trek-like verbal exchanges. If you haven’t tried Amazon’s Echo yet, try it and you’ll see what I’m talking about. Read more

An old tactic to fight a new threat—Ashley Madison, the cheating site that was hacked and information about its customers exposed, has offered a bounty of $379,000 for information leading to the hackers’ identity. The takeaway: Bounties have been around for hundreds of years, but money remains an effective incentive for giving up information. Read more

Legal trouble for SoundCloud—SoundCloud has become a popular tool for podcasters and others sharing audio, but its popularity has painted a target on its back. The audio-sharing site’s latest challenge comes from Performing Rights Society (PRS), which licenses music in the UK and Europe. PRS says it will file a suit to recover unpaid royalties for 4,500 musical works that appear in the audio clips uploaded to SoundCloud. The takeaway: Were you considering publishing your podcasts (or other audio content) through SoundCloud? You may want to reconsider. Read more

Facebook introduces “Donate Now” button for nonprofits—A “Donate Now” button is available as a call-to-action for any nonprofit’s Facebook page as well as linked advertisements. The button doesn’t include a payment option, just a redirect to the nonprofit’s donation page. The takeaway: Even though the button doesn’t facilitate payment, it should serve nonprofits well. Read more

GIFs get a facelift from—A new GIF player from lets you not only create a GIF, but add a credit to link back to your profile or website. From there, you can link to it or embed it, and even enable audio as well as a link to the full video from which the GIF was created. Animated GIFs are another of those formats some companies shy away from as being beneath them, but other brands are waking up to the fact that audiences actually pay attention to them. Read more

Mobile and Wearables

Mobile acceptance has grown—Americans still don’t like people talking on their phones in social settings, even though a lot of us use those phones when we’re with groups of people. A Pew research study finds 82% of adults think it disrupts conversation when people use their phones in social seettings, but 33% say using their phones when they’re with other people contributes to the conversation and the group dynamic. Women are more likely to be bugged by use of phones in groups than men. Most people think using a phone is fine when you’re strolling down the street, on public transportation, or waiting in line. Restaraunts, family dinners, meetings, movies, and church are still seen as off-limits venues for indulguing the compulsion to be on the phone. The takeaway: The world is increasingly a mobile one, and we’re getting used to it. If this isn’t impetus to rethink your strategy for mobile-first (if not mobile-only), I’m not sure what will. Read more

Instagram ditches square photos—Instagram has added a “format” button to its upload function, allowing users to select the dimensions of the image or video they’re sharing: portrait, landscape, or the app’s legacy square aspect ratio. The takeaway: Instagram has just become more appealing for brands that want to use it as a content marketing tool for images created for distribution through multiple channels. No more force-fitting an image into the square format.Read more

More publishers join Snapchat’s Discover—Ridiculed when announced, Snapchat’s Discover has been a rousing success with millions of views every day for every channel. Now Snapchat is adding three new channels—food and travel video network Tastemade, tech news site Mashable, and gaming news site IGN. Coca-Cola and other advertisers have already signed on as advertisers for the new channels. The ultra-short Discover videos let users swipe quickly through news and features from publishers including CNN, People, ESPN, National Geographic, Comedy Central, and the Food Network. The takeaway: Short videos—10-to-15 seconds—with quick cuts and text overlays are increasingly popular and not that hard to produce. Look at the proliferation of NowThis news videos as an example. Why isn’t your company distributing similar videos?Read more

Brazil’s mobile operators want to outlaw WhatsApp—It’s a pattern when new technologies disrupt established businesses. In Brazil, the biggest telecom businesses are developing a report that wants to convince the government that WhatsApp’s voice calling service is illegal. The takeaway: You never know how a government will react—just look at some of the absurd rulings coming out of Germany—but if Skype is legal, why not WhatsApp? The government should find that it’s up to customers how they use the data they’ve paid for. More important, the fact that telecom companies are going after WhatsApp should demonstrate how big WhatsApp in particular—and mobile messaging in general—has grown. WeChat has become a national platform for doing pretty much everything in China. Read more

Case study: Purina on Periscope—Purina’s Purina One brand used live social mobile video streaming app Periscope for the first time at a two-day “Cat Camp,” with its live streams reaching nearly 10,000 people around the world. Those 10,000 viewers of the live stream gave the videos more than 60,000 likes. It wasn’t a one-way stream; Periscope (and competitor Meerkat) are social apps, which meant people were able to ask questions of cat experts. The takeaway: Live mobile social video streaming is going to be huge. HUGE. Figure out where it fits your brand and your strategy and start experimenting. Read more


Business social media use soars, engagement nosedives—More brands are using social media more than ever, with some 80% of the top 50 global brands posting regularly to the top five social media platforms. The number of followers has also grown. But engagement, the holy grail of social media marketing, has declined in the last 12 months. Despite increased use of social media and expansion of the channels brands employ, per-post engagement has dipped across every channel except Facebook (where it grew from 0.07% to 0.2%). Fan interactions with branded Instagram posts, for instance, fell from 4.2% last year to 2.2% this year (according to Forrester Research). Pinteerst interactions declinied from 0.1% to 0.04%. The takeaways: The growth of social media use means there has been a growth in bad social media marketing, which undoubtedly accounts for at least some of the decline in engagement. Do it well and you’ll get plenty of engagement. It also pays to be an early adopter of channels that could pay off down the road. Read more

Virtual Reality’s place in the B2B world—The storytelling potential for Virtual Reality is particularly strong in the Business-to-Business ecosystem, according to marketers from companies like GE, letting them showcase big-tickets items in an immersive 3D environment. It’s the ultimate in “try before you buy.” The takeaway: Virtual Reality is coming. It’s coming fast. Before you know it, you’ll find it in use everywhere. Start familiarizing yourself with it soon. (My $199 Samsung Gear headset arrives today.) Read more

Instagram is changing brands’ view of photography—One design director calls the kind of photography that has become increasingly common “perfectly imperfect.” It’s not “over-lit, over-staged, and generally over-edited.” Thank Instagram’s popularity for more natural, organic photography being shared by brands, which are producing the kinds of photos more commonly associated with the snaps fans would share. The takeaways: First, it’s time to get over the mindset that your brand is above less formal photography. Second, Instagram is a brand powerhouse and I continue to be dismayed by the number of companies that haven’t adopted it. Read more

Anonymous peer-review tools are increasingly common in the enterprise—Experimentation with online tools that let workers praise or criticize each other—anonymously, in some cases—is becoming more common. Companies like General Electric, Accenture, and Deloitte have dropped annual performance reviews in favor of ongoing assessments, which usually includes the name of the reviewer. Some firms, though, are opting to try performance-management tools that feature anonymous feedback, and the results are mixed. The takeaway: I am not a fan of anonymity, especially in the workplace, with rare exceptions. I haven’t seen a strong case for anonymous peer feedback. I prefer building a culture where employees feel they can safely say what they think. Read more

How should you measure digital PR—According to a report from PR Newswire, “PR drives traffic, traffic creates leads, leads become pipeline, and pipeline becomes revenue.” The key metrics to report, according to the white paper, are social activity, website traffic, and conversion rates. The takeaway: While there may be some argument over the best metrics to assess the effectiveness of online PR efforts, you don’t see Advertising Value Equivalancies or impressions on the list, do you? Read more

This Week’s Tools and Apps

QuizUp wants you to train employees with trivia—QuizUp at Work is an app that lets employees compete in trivia competitions based on corporate programs, products, and policies. The takeaway: Games and gamification have a clear place in the enterprise. I love this concept. Read more