Friday Wrap #185: Webcam security, Yelp’s safe harbor, fighting fake stories, & Twitter news galore

Posted on September 16, 2016 11:00 am by | Chatbots | Content | Instagram | Visual Communication | Wearables | Pinterest | Brands | Business | Channels | Content Curation | Customer Service | Facebook | Instant Messaging | Marketing | Media | Mobile | Politics | PR | Research | Social Media | Social Networking | Twitter

Friday Wrap #185I extract items for the Friday Wrap from my link blog, which you’re welcome to follow.. To make sure you never miss an issue, subscribe to my weekly email briefing. This week, an unusual amount of Twitter news crossed my feeds, so I stuffed it all in a dedicated Twitter section.


FBI’s advice: Tape over your webcam—Straight from FBI Director James Comey: It’s just common sense to cover up your webcam. Comey took some ridicule for admitting he does it, but he noted that most government workers do it so “people who don’t have authority don’t look at you.” The takeaway: Mock away, but if you value your privacy, you’ll pay attention. Webcams are not impossible to hack; it’s been done before. It probably wouldn’t hurt to let employees at your company know they should heed Comey’s advice. It would be nice for employees to know the company cares about their privacy. Read more

Yelp is not responsible for negative reviews—The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals dismissed a libel suit filed against Yelp over the site’s star rating system. The Court said the system is not company-created content. Under federal law, the court said, Yelp is not liable for the content posted by users. The Redmond, Washington locksmith who brought the suit plans to appeal, claiming the one-star review was, in fact, written about a competitor and that Yelp tried to extort fees from him by attaching it to his company, an assertion the appeals court called “threadbare.” The takeaway: The safe harbor provisions—like the ones that protect phone companies from liability over criminal activites planned or perpetrated over the phone, are vital to an open Internet. Let’s hope the ruling stands. Read more

Your Amazon Echo could soon deliver notifications—I’ll say it here and I’ll repeat it later in this Briefing: I love my Amazon Echo. To date, like an obedient child, it only speaks when spoken too, but that could change. Push notifications could be coming to the Echo, alerting you (for example) that your spouse’s flight just landed. The takeaway: Computing is moving away from a device to which you have to be tethered. With Echos (or the smaller Dots that contain the Echo’s microphone array but not the speaker—you connect via Bluetooth to another speaker instead) scattered around your home, you can just ask a question or issue an instruction the way you would to a person. Adding the push of information you really want to know (“The Dodgers just scored two runs on a single to left from Adrian Gonzalez; the score is now Dodgers 5, Cubs 2”) is a great next step. Read more

Facebook takes a stab at fighting fake Trending stories—When Facebook fired its human editorial team and handed control of its Trending feature over to algorithms, fake stories started appearing. Facebook is preparing to introduce technology to address the problem. The takeaway: That’s good. I hope they’re also able to address the fact that a Trending section that actually used to contain news is now filled with entertainment, celebrity, and sports items. Read more

Partner network comes together to fight fake news—While Facebook undertakes its own efforts to combat fake news, First Draft’s partner network of more than 30 companies (including Facebook and Twitter) aims to tackle the problem more collaboratively. The Google-based organization also includes media companies like The New York Times and Buzzfeed that will share best practices on verification of accurate stories and methods for halting the spread of false ones. The takeaway: I wish them the very best of luck. Fake stories are a plague and it’s likely to get worse before it gets better. Consider how merrily the news industry publishes material stolen by hackers. As one article pointed out, it won’t be long before hackers begin altering the contents of their ill-gotten content before releasing it. Dave Pell said (and I agree) that news organizations should reconsider their partnership with thieves. Read more

YouTube rolls out “Community” tab—YouTube comments can be the worst cesspool on the Internet, but a new “Community” tab for creators allows them to send text, live videos, images, videos, and GIFs to their fans in real time, which could help build a real community and strengthen connections between creators and viewers. The takeaway: The feature is currently in limited beta, but when it’s refined and finalized, it cold elevate YouTube—at least for its popular stars—above its current state. Read more

The promo where drinking and driving work together—A new ad campaign on Absolut Vodka’s Facebook page lets people get a free drink at select bars, then get a free ride home from ridesharing service Lyft. And it’s all handled through a Facebook Messenger chatbot. The takeaway: Partnerships are getting more and more popular. What company can you partner with for a promotion or campaign that will attract your target market’s attention? Read more

Facebook Live is coming to your desktop—Facebook is rolling out the ability to broadcast live from your webcam at your desktop. Facebook Live has only been available on smartphones up until now. The takeaway: While the trend definitely favors mobile, I can think of all kinds of reasons people would prefer to live-stream from their desktops. Expect to see a surge of new live streams, followed by an announcement from Twitter that you’ll be able to use Periscope from your desktop. Read more

Brands can now cross-post publisher videos on Facebook—Let’s say you pay a publishers to produce a video and distribute it for free on the publisher’s Facebook Page. If you wanted to run it on your brand page as well, up until now you had to re-upload it manually. No longer. Now any Page can cross-post a video as long as the brand Page has the permission of the producer’s Page. Pages will be able to run videos originally uploaded organically as video ads; the views from the organic video will be added to the video ad’s counts. The takeaway: Making it easier for marketers to do things is one way to keep them coming back to Facebook, even as other algorithm changes piss them off. Read more


Thursday Night Football a hit on Twitter—Last night I watched Thursday Night Football’s matchup of the Bills and Jets on an aiport TV screen until I boarded. Once I was in my seat, I opened Twitter on my smartphone and watched it there. And, by God, it worked. It worked great. Of course, I had to shut down when the front door was closed, but I got a taste of what anybody (not just subscribers) will be able to see during the 10-game contract Twitter inked with the NFL. When I held the phone vertically, I could also see the tweets viewers were sharing about the game. The takeaway: Keep reading to learn more about Twitter’s emphasis on “right now,” live content, both video and 140-character messages. Read more

Twitter got the Hillary stumble scoop—If you doubt Twitter’s role in breaking news—and the memory of the Miracle on the Hudson first being conveyed via Twitter isn’t enough to convince you—consider that we might never know that presidential candidate Hillary Clinton stumbled while leaving a 9/11 memorial event. The reason we know: A video shot with a cell phone was tweeted. It was an eyewitness video that changed the story. The takeaway: There are no secrets; only information we don’t have yet. Adam Curry said that years ago and it’s more true today than ever. If you’re not prepared for stuff to be disclosed that you once considered secret, you’re not doing your job. And Twitter is very likely the place that disclosure will happen. You are monitoring Twitter, aren’t you? Aren’t Read more

Twitter inks deal for daily streaming finance news show—Startup Cheddar will broadcast a daily finance-focused news show via Twitter. The morning show “Opening Bell” will be available at, but “Closing Bell” will only be streamed on Twitter. It will feature market analysis and in-depth reports. The takeaway: Twitter is going all in with streaming video, but it’s adhering to its mission of delivering what’s actually happening right now. Twitter is all about news. Read more

If news breaks on Twitter, activism follows quickly—The police shooting of a 13-year-old who brandished a BB gun was a top trending topic on Twitter very quickly after the news broke (which a lot of politically active Twitterverse undoubtedly saw first on Twitter). The incident occurred in Ohio where Tamir Rice was similarly shot only two years agos, prompting outraged tweets like this: “Ohio is an open carry state. Still, they keep killing black kids with BB guns.#TamirRice, and now, #TyreeKing” The takeaway: I’m not sharing this to provoke political passions. This section of the Briefing focuses on Twitter and the lesson should be clear. News about your organization (of the Wells Fargo type) will break on Twitter and your company will become a trending topic, a target of activists who will attract the attention of the media. Knowing this and preparing for it should be a de facto part of crisis planning. Read more

Will Twitter survive?—Yes, says The Economist, but it has lost the chance to be the social media giant it once seemed it would become. Stalled growth, consumer preferences for competitors like Instagram, and the lack of will for a radical overhaul have mired Twitter as a second-tier service despite the role it plays in news. The takeaway: Companies are crazy to ignore Twitter, but recognize that its value is in getting news out quickly and serving customers who prefer it for contacting companies with which they do business. Beyond that, focus elsewhere. I’ll let you know if things change. (They probably won’t.) Read more

Jack Dorsey doesn’t see Twitter as a social network anyway—Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey told FastCompany that Twitter is about one thing: real-time. Dorsey quoted a reporter who told him, “When something is happening in the world, Twitter saves me time. And when nothing is happening, Twitter wastes my time.” Even the livestreaming deals Twitter has been inking are focused on what’s happening right now. The takeaway: Exactly. It’s why I have Twitter open on a second screen (using Hootsuite) all the time. Is it a distraction? Sometimes. But I know when shit happens and that has served me well. Read more

Your company can now display how quickly you respond to customer service requests—If you take customer service on Twitter seriously, you’ll love this: Twitter has activated a new feature that lets user see response times and hours your customer service reps are available on your company’s profile. The takeaway: Consumers want your company to be responsive to social media inquiries. If you can display the fact that you respond quickly and set expectations by displaying the hours your reps respond you could build a great customer service reputation. On the other hand, if you don’t take it seriously, by all means, don’t activate this feature. Read more

Twitter sets Monday for expanding character limit—Effective September 19, media attachments will no longer count against Twitter’s 140 character limit; nor will usernames that appear at the beginning of a tweet. The takeaway: The move will be welcome by existing users but will do nothing to attract new ones. Current users will have more room to work with, opening new avenues for creativity. Read more

More Twitter features are turning it into a messaging app—The Direct Messages feature now offers Read Receipts, typing indicators, and web link previews, suggesting twitter hopes people will see it as an alternative to tools like Facebook Messenger. The takeaway: DMs are entirely separate from what the rest of Twitter is becoming and I don’t know how many people will drop WhatsApp in favor of the DM screen on the Twitter app. Still, for those who use it, these are nice enhancements. Read more

Twitter introduces app for Amazon’s Echo—I love my Echo. It’s the best tech investment I’ve made in years. And now if I ask it to, it will read tweets. In addition to reading your main timeline, you can set it to read trending topics of various kinds. The takeaway: News organizations have been all over Alexa, but Twitter is the first social network to create a “skill.” Evidence is mounting that we will soon interact with all our technology via voice. Even Apple’s new Air Pods (wireless ear buds) are designed to make it easier to use Siri wherever you are and whenever you need to. One advantage the Echo has over Siri (for now): Siri can’t turn on your lights or open your garage door. Read more


Marketers seek Muslim influencers—The political cycle may be rife with Islamaphobia, but Muslims are a desirable demographic for marketers, leading to the identification of Muslim influencers, like YouTuber Amena Kin, who was tapped to help pitch a L’Oreal product. Others have touted Apple, and Dolce and Gabbana, among others. “These influencers hold court with “Generation M,” the millions of faithful millennial Muslims who are also avid, affluent consumers,” according to Digiday. The takeaway: One of my great hopes is that commerce can help overcome hate. I now, I’m just a cock-eyed optimist. Read more

We live in the age of the wordless logo—More and more companies are rolling out redesigned logos bearing no words. It’s not entirely new. Starbucks’ and Nike’s wordless logos have been around for a while, but now we have MasterCard and others joining the movement. A key benefit of wordless logos: “Consumers are jaded about advertising in a way they weren’t several decades ago,” according to one expert. “It’s harder to appeal to them than it used to be, and they tend to see through overt marketing pitches. Companies have had to learn subtlety.” The takeaway: Wordless logos are also easy to apply to visual communication. Read more

Radiohead gets innovative on Instagram—The rock band Radiohead held a contest in which fans submitted visuals to accompany an alternate version of a song from its new album. Now they’re posting the winners with the images set to the music—and they’re getting huge view and comment numbers. The takeaway: I know, I know, your company ain’t Radiohead. But you probably have fans and there’s no reason you can’t have a little fan fun on Instagram. If nothing else, use this as inspiration to come up with something else that’s equally different from what every other brand is doing on Instagram, which is one of the most important channels in the social space, particularly (but not exclusively) for business-to-consumer brands. Read more

Do you regram?—It’s not as simple as retweeting, but it can be just as important when your brand is featured positively in someone else’s Instagram feed. (That is, you can share user-generated content through your branded account.) You have to use a third-party app or take a screenshot of the image and share it through your account (giving full credit to the source, of course). As for a third-party app, try Repost for Instagram. The takeaway: Sharing fan content (with appropriate credit) can add variety to your Instagram account while conveying the passion your fans have for your brand. The post goes into considerable detail about how brands can get the most out of regramming. Read it and give it a try. Read more

Pinterest is beating Instagram, Twitter, and Snapchat—I had trouble deciding whether this belonged in “Research” or “Trends,” but settled on “Trends” since this research highlights a trend you may not have been aware of. (I wasn’t.) Pinterest commands more attention from consumers than competing channels with half of its users saying they spend more time with Pinterest than Instagram, Twitter, or Snapchat. Consumers at large prefer only Facebook to Pinterest. As a result, promoted pins are proving to be high performers. The takeaway: You don’t hear much about Pinterest these days, which may lead you to forget it’s there. Don’t fall into the trap. Pinterest continues to be an important component of any content marketing strategy. Read more

Heineken USA raises the employer branding bar—Think your company has a great recruiting site? Heineken USA puts it to shame. The “Go Places” site invites you to participate in an interactive interview centered on 12 questions; you’re guided by a “curator” who gives you 5 seconds to answer each question, all part of a hig-end production. You can also choose the Manifesto, a 1:12-minute “Go Places” video that rivals the best TV commercials. The takeaway: If this is the new normal for employer branding in the war for talent, those traditional sites that employ corporatese in small type are going to look even more pathetic than they already did. Read more

Tommy Hilfiger’s Messenger chatbot gets an assist from Facebook—While chatbots are going to be a big, big deal, the several thousand that developers have created for Messenger haven’t been impressive so far. That led Facebook’s Creative Shop to lend a hand to Tommy Hilfiger, which debuted the TMY.GRL.A.I. Messenger Bot to promote a new fashion line. You can ask questions about the line and its designer, get behind-the-scenes content, and shop for clothes from the line. The takeaway: These are early days for messaging app chatbots, but the idea of connecting people with brands directly and instantly, without having to download an app or open a website, is massively appealing. Read more

Chevy and IBM’s Watson rate your social media personality—Few industries recognize the shift toward experience marketing than the auto industry. (The travel industry is right up there, too.) Consumers can visit a desktop or mobile site to find out how they score on a positivity scale based on what they have been posting to either Facebook or Twitter. Your most and least positive posts are displayed along with your five most used positive words and a social personality summary. The results of the analysis also recommend an experience for you, like “master a new language.” The Chevrolet branding is subdued by not hidden. The takeaway: It’s part of Chevy’s “Fueling Possibilities"campaign, which is how the experience and the brand sync up. I tried it and concluded that sentiment analysis is still an inexact science; a post that was positive wound up on the negative side of the scale. Still, if it draws people and gets them clicking and reading, it’ll be memorable and shareable. It’s also another example of brands tapping into IBM’s AI engine. Read more

Streaming video is coming to your 60-inch TV—The popularity of Google’s Chromecast, which lets you “cast” video and music from your phone to your TV, made it clear that mobile services with streaming media are anxious to get some of the time you spend on the couch in front of the boob tube. So it’s no surprise that Twitter—which began its Thursday Night Football broadcasts yesterday—wants to make it easy to watch from the comfort of your Lazy Boy. If you have Apple TV, Amazon Fire TV, or an Xbox One, there’s now an app you can use to watch any of the video that Twitter is streaming. It’s currently only available in select markets. The takeaway: Damn. I have a Roku. But if you don’t think this has the traditional broadcast television industry worried, guess again. Read more


Robots will replace 6% of US jobs by 2021—I saw a report earlier today about a pizza parlor that has a robot making pizza. Get ready for more of this. According to Forrester Research, robots will have taken 6% of all jobs in the US by 2021. First to go will be customer service reps, followed by truck and taxi drivers. The takeaway: If your company employs a lot of people in easy-to-automate jobs, the time to start communicating about this inevitable transition isn’t when employees who didn’t see it coming are blindsided by it. If you can influence your leadership to be proactive with retraining programs and the like, do it and communicate it loud and clear. The automation of much of the work people do is coming, and your organization can be part of the employment solution or part of the problem. Read more

Subject line advice for emails pitching journalists—A survey of journalists coupled with analysis of nearly 27,000 email pitches has revealed what journalists like to see in subject lines. The best subject lines are tailored to the writer’s beat (which immediately disqualifies any email pitch blasted out to lists of journalists). After that, journalists like subject lines that are specific, descriptive, brief, and creative. Clickbait subject lines, subject lines that try to be funny, ones that are personalized (that is, the journalist’s name is in it), and those that try to be catchy aren’t appreciated. The takeaway: Do what journalists like. Read more

Micro-influencers are better than big-name celebrities—A data study found that mega-celebrities aren’t the best option for brand influencer campaigns. Micro-influencers are individuals with smaller, more loyal followers who exert more influence because they’re more engaged with their audiences. Their influence can also be bought for considerably less money. The takeaway: I had tremendous success with a social media campaign for a client that used influencers (before that label had become popular) from key industries with an interest in the product. None were A-listers; they were big fish in the small ponds of their particular areas of specialization. It takes a little more work to find these individuals, but it could be well worth the effort. Read more

How many brands rely on organic reach on Facebook? Almost all of them—Remember all that whining and complaining from marketers when Facebook jiggered its algorithm resulting in a decrease in organic reach from company pages? “They lured us in with free reach and now they’re changing the game and making us pay!” they cried. Except, a couple years later, they’re still not paying. According to research from ad agency BBDO, 97% of the top brands on Facebook continue to rely on organic posts. Among these brands, 80% or more of their posts included no paid boost. The takeaway: Aside from how funny this is, it’s worth noting that these brands continue to post and continue to maintain a Facebook presence. Something must make that worthwhile. The key here is measuring the right things. Measuring likes, comments, and click-throughs is a failed strategy, since the people who tend to engage this way aren’t likely to be part of your target market. Instead, they’re just people who do a lot of liking, clicking, and commenting all over Facebook. Read more

One in 50 employees is a “malicious insider”—One out of every 50 employees is a “malicious insider”—employees engaged in fraud, sabotage, and theft of loss of confidential information. Usually, companies believe those employees who are leaving the company with a grudge are behind such incidents, but research from Imperva found many of these malicious insiders simply see their activities, which are based on their access to information, as a second income stream. Thirty-six percent of companies surveyed said they had experienced security incidents caused by malicious staff in the last year. The takeaway: IT has a role to play in investing in data protection. If communicators want to reduce the likelihood of such incidents, make sure you’re focused on engagement; “actively disengaged” is just a synonym for a “malicious insider.” Read more

Mobile and Wearables

Chatbots are growing faster than apps did—A Citigroup study finds the bot economy is growing faster than the app economy did in its early days. The report predicts “a possible momentum shift in the mobile landscape from the App Economy to the Bot Economy…there is significant potential for bots to become an everyday technology.” The takeaway: I don’t think there’s any maybe about it. Bots will be YUUUGE. In addition to the explosion of Messenger bots, the Kik bot store, and the commonplace presence of bots on Slack, Apple announced it will introduce a bot store just for iMessenger as part of iOS 10. Read more

Corporate wellness programs embrace fitness trackers—Several years ago I predicted that wearables would get their initial uptake in the enterprise. While fitness trackers are most popular among the public with people who desperately need to get fit (it’s why I wear a Fitbit One), Patagonia’s employee population is already pretty active. The company envisions employees wearing them to get an overall snapshot of the workforce’s activity and health levels. For example, monitoring the overall workforce activity can reveal that a lot of employees are feeling stressed. While Patagonia is considering this approach to fitness trackers, other companies have adopted them and Gartner projects that by 2018, 2 million employees will be required to wear them by their employers, especially in jobs where stress is a daily reality. Other companies see the investment as a way to get employees in sedentary jobs to get up and move once in a while. The takeaway: If you work in a high-stress environment, start doing your homework on how best to communicate a requirement that many employees may see as an invasion of privacy. Read more

Google Cardboard camera comes to iOS—Android users have enjoyed the ability to shoot 360-degree videos with whatever phone they happen to have—and view them in Google Cardboard headsets. Now, finally, iOS users can do the same. The takeaway: Immersive photos and videos are well on their way to being commonplace. Consider experimentation for your communications. You have little to lose and it costs nothing. Read more

Public chat rooms could be coming to Messenger—Code hidden in the iOS version of Facebook Messenger reveals that a “Rooms” feature could be headed to the messaging app. The code reveals that “Rooms are for public conversations about topics and interests. Each room has a link that can be shared so anyone on Messenger can join the conversation.” Anyone would be able to start a public room, join others, and invite people to join you in a room. The takeaway: If it comes to fruition, it could be popular tool now that over 1 billion people use Messenger. It also could sap some activity from Facebook Groups, although people may use them for different purposes. We’ll see. Read more

This week’s Wrap image—“very nice statue wrapped in a red shawl”—appears courtesy of Daniel Ramirez’s Flickr account.

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