Friday Wrap #172: Peeple won’t end well, the rise of “plogging,” Boomers consume more content

Friday Wrap #172The 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.


New people-rating app: This won’t end well—Peeple is a new app that works like Yelp, but instead of rating services, you rate individual people. Its creators say they designed it “to spread love and positivity.” Yeah, like that’ll happen on the Net. Once someone has added you to the app, you’re in, whether you want to be or not, and everyone who knows you can rate you on various “integrity features” and assign you a one- to five-star rating. The app will be launched in November to what will be, I’m sure, a huge uptake. The takeaway: People will rate co-workers, bosses, and company leaders, not to mention the guy working behind the counter at the local retailer. The backlash against the app won’t be long in coming. Read more

Unfriending = Bullying—In Australia, employers are rushing to update their social media policies in the wake of a ruling by the Fair Work Commission (Australia’s equivalent of the U.S. National Labor Relations Board) that found unfriending a colleague on Facebook constitutes workplace bullying. The takeaway: Wherever your organization has operations, you must stay abreast of labor rulings dealing with social media. Companies have to view their social media policies as living, breathing things, not static documents, as laws and regulations race to catch up to social media practices. Read more

LinkedIn opens employee advocacy product to large enterprises—LinkedIn Elevate, companies can send employees a stream of content to share across LinkedIn and Twitter. The service is now available to large enterprises (those with more than 2,000 employees); only beta testers had access up until now. The service includes analytics to help companies see how employee sharing is producing more engagement with their content. The takeaway: Companies like Social Chorus and GaggleAmp may have some serious competition from LinkedIn, a brand most leaders are familiar with. Read more

Customer support efforts could surge if Twitter removes 140-character barrier—The big news this week is word that Twitter may let users post messages longer than 140 characters, something already introduced to the service’s Direct Messages. If that happens, writes Adweek’s Christopher Heine, “the move would seem to open up the floodgates for customer service. Retailers and airlines would be able to have more complete conversations with patrons while quelling concerns, at least in theory, with fewer tweets.” The takeaway: Customers already turn to Twitter—along with Facebook—to seek help from companies they do business with. If it takes the ability to craft longer messages and have more natural conversations to get companies to start responding, then it’s a good thing. Sadly, I think the move will cost Twitter its defining characteristic and make it even more Facebook-like than it already is. Read more


The rise of the plog—We seemed to be headed toward a short-form world: short messages, short videos, quickly-viewed images. In such a world a standalone blog dedicated to long-form content seemed an anachronism. While we weren’t paying attention, though, Facebook revamped its Notes feature so users could publish longer, more attractive posts. Medium (the long-form publishing platform from one of Twitter’s co-founders) got a new round of funding of close to $60 million. An enhanced Posts feature was rolled out by Slack. And Twitter reportedly is preparing to ditch its 140-character limit. Long-form blogging is back. It’s just not on individual blogs, but rather on someone else’s platform. WIRED took the plunge and labeled it “plogging” (platform blogging). The takeaway: The resurgence of platforms for long-form writing signal an appetite for longer text-based pieces, but doesn’t eliminate the desire for quick, short items, either. The trick is knowing when to deliver which to whom. Read more

Snapchat aims for user-generated news—With 100 million daily users, Snapchat has access to a lot of user-generated video. Those users can happen to be wherever news breaks, and Snapchat is stitching together content shared by users into news video packages. The app’s “Live Stories” get 15-20 million views per day. Snapchat’s Live Stories editors geofence an area where news is happening to make it easier to find content shared by people who are on the ground. The takeaway: The notion of pitching news is undergoing a dramatic change. If your company is making an announcement, holding an event, or engaging in some other kind of news, find ways to encourage sharing of the event via Snapchat—it just might capture the attention of the in-house news team. Read more

“Instagram for Doctors” points to growth of vertical apps—Figure 1 is an app health care professionals use to share images with each other. While you and I might find them gross, the gross factor isn’t the motivation behind the app. Rather, many share pictures looking for second or third opinions (or, in some cases, to “stump members of their community with little diagnostic quizzes”). A mere half million health care professionals use the app, but it is posed to “become global health’s central nervous system—improving diagnostics, care, and treatment for non-users everywhere,” according to WIRED’s Nick Stockton. The takeaway: We are already seeing the growth of vertical social networks like Doximity for doctors and RallyPoint for military professionals. Why not apps? There are several reasons to keep your eye on these tools. They could be useful for your own staff. (Wouldn’t you want doctors and nurses in your hospital to have access to this kind of resource?) And there could be opportunities to develop tools like this that meet the needs of your audience. Read more

Are PR and IR joining forces?—A report from Business Wire offers steps to organizations for greater cooperation between Public Relations and Investor Relations. According to the wire service’s Serena Ehrlich, “Thanks to the proliferation of ways companies engage directly with each constituent, companies are no longer viewed through multiple lenses. Consumers are just as likely to read an earnings release as they are a tweet. As such, it is time for companies to speak with one voice, a step that not only streamlines brand communications, but also internal processes, reducing repetitive tasks and reducing overall budget spends.” The report is free, assuming you’re willing to fill in a form and become a sales lead. The takeaway: The report is worth reading for recommendations on repurporsing content, understanding regulations, and speaking with a single voice. Given consumer access to pretty much everything you release, this kind of convergence makes tremendous sense. Get the report


Baby Boomers consume more content—Baby Boomers spend almost 10% more time online consuming content than younger generations, according to results of a survey from Fractl and BuzzStream. A quarter of boomers spend 20-plus hours per week consuming content, the most of any demographic group. Just over 22% Gen Xers and the highly valued Millennials spend 5-10 hours per week online consuming content, the largest share of these categories. Boomers do most of their content consumption during the week (mostly in the morning), while Millennials wait for the weekend. Boomers use laptops or tablets to get their content, while Millennials mainly use their smartphones. All three demographic groups about 300 words is the optimum length; Boomers even like articles of only 200 words. The takeaway: As we personalize more and more of our content, knowing the habits of our audiences can influence everything from when we publish to the length of our articles. Read more

Employee advocacy needs support—There’s a reason so many companies are developing employee ambassador programs. Nobody can amplify messages like engaged staff. But do these companies have any idea what kind of content employees actually want to share? Results of a study from employee advocacy firm Trapit found that 55% of employees think sharing a mix of third-party content and company-created content is best. They also indicated they’re not clear on internal processes and distribution strategies. The takeaway: You have employees who would love to help spread your message, but an ambassador program needs strategy, structure, processes, and tools. What’s more, if you don’t know what kind of content employees are willing to share with their social graphs, you could be spending a lot of time trying to amplify messages employees are unwilling to act on. Read more

Millennials scrolls faster but still retain information—Advertisers want to be sure their dollars are being spent on channels that create real brand impressions. One approach they have adopted is a minimum amount of time spent on a content object. (Three seconds has evolved as a rule.) But research by Facebook suggests Millennials scroll considerably faster than people in other demographics, without losing the ability to recall what they have seen. Teens consume content (with recall ability) 2.5 times faster than people in their 60s (like me). The takeaway: Makes sense, doesn’t it? These are people who have grown up with digital and mobile messaging. With them, you don’t need three seconds to make an impression. Read more

American’s trust in the news media is at an all-time low—Don’t blame Brian Williams, but only 40% of Americans have “a great deal” or “a fair amount” of confidence that the mainstream media reports the news fairly, fully, and accurately. Younger Americans (aged 18-49) have an even dimmer view of the media; only 36% expressed confidence in what the media reports. While things are better among the over-50 crowd, it’s still not great, with only 45% confident they’re getting the straight story from the news media. The takeaway: Too much of the public relations profession is focused on media relations, even though the coverage we get may be viewed through the lens of distrust and cynicism. Earned media coverage is still important, but does it deserve the continued focus the PR industry gives it? Read more

Older brand videos get more views on YouTube than Facebook—Videos on YouTube experience a “ripple effect,” according to research from video content ad company Visible Measures. When a brand introduces a new video on YouTube, people look for older ones, find them, and watch them. That doesn’t happen on Facebook. (Have you ever tried searching for a video on Facebook?) The research found that 45% of video views on YouTube are of a brand’s new videos; the remaining 55% comes from viewing older videos that have been available for a while. On Facebook, 95% of a brand’s video views are of new content. The takeaway: We needed a study to know this? I wouldn’t want to lose any of those views, so keep posting natively to both platforms. Read more

Facebook offers advice on how brands should measure their Facebook efforts—Two internal teams studied the results of campaigns Facebook and (Mark Zuckerberg’s project to get the Net to the world’s poorest people) ran on Facebook. Their focus: optimal frequency, reach-versus-frequency tradeoffs, and creative formats. Low and medium frequency campaigns worked best, with low-frequency campaigns producing higher reach. A higher proportion of video impressions produced higher lifts in favorability. The takeaway: Shrugging Facebook off because reach is low can be a mistake. Creating a campaign with specific objectives and assessing the platform’s various formats to identify those that will work best can still produce some pretty spectacular results. Read more

Virtual and Augmented Reality

Nestle, Google partner to create immersive experience in Brazil’s coffee fields—Google has created a mobile app, Nescafe 360, which works with its Cardboard VR technology. (If you’re using Samsung’s VR headset, you can still use the app with a few tweaks to your smartphone settings.) The app puts you in the middle of a Brazilian coffee plantation and provides highlights of the coffee farming process. The focus, interestingly, isn’t on the coffee itself, but instead the app educates users about how the company helps farmers increase yields and earn more. Non-3D versions of the videos are on YouTube, but really, who cares? The takeaway: Having been on coffee plantations, I can see the appeal of an immersive 360-degree experience. If it helps position Nestle as a socially-conscious company while knocking the socks off of coffee lovers, it can only enhance the company’s reputation. Read more

VR is becoming a reality in newsrooms—Not too long ago, I wrote a blog post wondering which company or agency will be the first to produce VR B-roll. If that sounds far-fetched, this Poynter Institute article might change your mind. Consider ABC News’s Inside Syria VR report, an experiment that immerses viewers in Damascus to see how “archaeologists are racing against time to protect historical antiquities menaced by war.” And that’s just one example. Frontline has produced a VR project, and Gannett has created several. AP has gotten into the game as well, and wants to use the technology to cover breaking news. The takeaway: Ignore the warnings of skeptics. VR is coming fast, and it’s going to be big. Start figuring out where it fits in your communication efforts now. Read more

Mobile and Wearables

Mobile traffic is twice as big as app traffic, and growing—It may sound counter-intuitive. After all, how much time do you think you spend with apps compared to web content delivered through a mobile browser? But Morgan Stanley says the mobile web is beating the pants off of apps. You may wonder how that can be, given reports that show we’re spending almost all our mobile time using apps. The fog lifts a little when you realize that one research methodology focuses on unique visitors (referring to it as “traffic”) while the other focuses on actual time spent. Apps matter because that’s where the deepest level of engagement happens, while the mobile web matters because people are still going to search for information. The takeaway: It’s not an either-or situation. You need apps if you want to connect with customers and you need to deliver a solid mobile web experience. Read more

Google Glass rebrands as Project Aura—Google Glass sounded awesome. When it was first announced, we imagined Augmented Reality: A pair of glasses would provide a layer of information on top of what we see. Instead, it was nothing more than a computer screen displaying emails and notifications in the corner of your eye. Moreover, it created a backlash as people resented the idea that someone could photograph them without them knowing the picture was being snapped. (And that wasn’t the only complaint about the socially awkward nature of the product that led people to dub those wearing them “Glassholes.”) Google retreated from Glass, but now the company is recruiting engineers and software developers from Amazon’s Lab 126 for the reborn Glass, now called “Project Aura.” The product will work on other wearables. The takeaway: Glass was a good idea poorly executed, but that doesn’t mean it’s dead. Heads-up Augmented Reality devices have a future, and Google is undoubtedly aware of the buzz Microsoft’s HoloLens has whipped up. Read more

This week’s wrap image comes courtesy of Preservation Maryland‘s Flickr account. It’s Wye House, built between 1780 and 1790, wrapped up during repairs.