Social Media Rundown: Facebook’s Data Dilemma; the Rise of Instagram Stories; A Twitter Edit Button?

FRONTLINE: The Facebook Dilemma
Watch the two-part series “The Facebook Dilemma” on PBS.

The New York Times published a rather scathing look inside the ongoing crisis at Facebook driven by privacy issues and the spread of disinformation. Although I haven’t read the full piece yet (it is quite long), it’s clear it takes particular aim at CEO Mark Zuckerberg and COO Sheryl Sandberg for their negligence in allowing the company to get into this mess in the first place. If you find the NYT story of interesting, be sure to also watch the two-part documentary from PBS’s Frontline “The Facebook Dilemma.”

Instagram Stories have not only grown at an incredible pace (see chart below), it has also shown success in other ways, like the million-dollar business of designing people’s Stories. Some surprising news came from Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey regarding a possible edit button for tweets. What might such an edit button look like? How many times could you edit a tweet? And for how long after it’s sent? That’s what the folks at Twitter need to figure out as they decide whether or not to roll out such a feature.

Finally, don’t forget to check out the Learn section for tips on building thought leadership and how to maximize your videos shared on social media.

Social Media News:

  • Delay, Deny and Deflect: How Facebook’s Leaders Fought Through Crisis (The New York Times). This is a long read that I’m planning to take on this weekend, but the key point is that both CEO Mark Zuckerberg and COO Sheryl Sandberg bear direct responsibility for the company’s woes: “Bent on growth, the pair ignored warning signs and then sought to conceal them from public view. At critical moments over the last three years, they were distracted by personal projects, and passed off security and policy decisions to subordinates, according to current and former executives.” On Sandberg: “While Mr. Zuckerberg has conducted a public apology tour in the last year, Ms. Sandberg has overseen an aggressive lobbying campaign to combat Facebook’s critics, shift public anger toward rival companies and ward off damaging regulation.” So, Facebook is not exactly showing expertise in crisis communication. If you do read the full piece, be sure to also read Facebook’s response.
  • Facebook and “The Data Dilemma” (PBS Frontline). Speaking of Facebook, this is a nice video overview of what Facebook knows about you, and how it knows it – from the use of “shadow profiles,” to the main ways Facebook tracks you on the web, even when you’re not on Facebook. This is a companion video to the much longer two-part investigation of Facebook’s privacy controversy that you should definitely watch. It’s also on YouTube.
  • Designing People’s Instagram Stories Is Now a Million-Dollar Business (Fast Company). With 11 million users, at a rate of 100,000 app downloads per day, Unfold, the Instagram story template app, is set to bring in $2.6 million in revenue for 2018.
  • Dorsey Says Twitter Is Thinking About an Edit Button to Fix Typos in Tweets (The Next Web). Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey said the company has to carefully consider use cases for the edit button before making it a reality – and it could potentially be tooled to help fix typos. In my opinion, this would be the biggest change in the company’s history; even bigger than increasing the character count to 280.
  • LinkedIn Expects Media Biz to Bring in $2 Billion in 2018 (Axios). LinkedIn’s increased ad revenue can be attributed to higher user engagement on the site, driven by recent changes to pages and the LinkedIn news feed.

Learn:

  • How to Use Social Media to Build Thought Leadership (Social Media Today). From sharing quality content and knowing your audience to providing original research and building a professional profile, this is a nice listicle of how to position yourself or your brand as a thought leader.
  • How to Maximize the Exposure of Your Videos: A Strategic Plan (Social Media Examiner). This blog post has a list of five ways to post, promote, and distribute videos more effectively.

Chart of the Week:

We Analyzed 15,000 Instagram Stories from 200 of the World’s Top Brands (Buffer). 400 million people around the world use Instagram Stories on a daily basis (with that number rapidly growing). Click the image for more stats and strategic insight into Instagram Stories.

Growth of the Stories Format from 2014-2018.
As Snapchat’s growth has been nearly stagnant for the past three years, Instagram, Facebook, and WhatsApp have seen explosive growth.

What are the top social media news stories and learnings that I missed this week?

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Social Media Rundown: Midterm Social Media Trap; Ability to Delete Sent Facebook Messages; Top Video Trends

The 2018 midterm elections have come and gone without any evidence of significant foreign interference. Attempts to undermine the U.S. election process was limited to attempts at spreading disinformation and fear by an infamous Russian troll farm. It seems the efforts from Facebook, Twitter, and the like were mostly successful in their attempts to tighten up security on their platforms. However, Facebook’s ad screeners seem to have gone a bit too far in what ads were rejected, and a path to government regulation of social media platforms seems somewhat imminent.

Midterms aside, be sure to read on for a new Facebook Messenger feature that allows users to delete sent messages up to 10 minutes after they’ve been sent. This week’s learn section includes a Hootsuite blog post with everything you need to know about LinkedIn videos. Plus, four shifts at Facebook and how to work the changes into your social media marketing strategy.

Social Media News:

  • You’ll Soon Be Able to Delete a Facebook Message up to 10 Minutes After It’s Already Been Sent (Business Insider). The ability to unsend a private message is in addition to the app’s “secret conversations” feature, where users can have their messages expire after a set amount of time.
  • We Tested Facebook’s Ad Screeners and Some Were Too Strict (The Atlantic). Facebook has some kinks to iron out in its pledge to make advertising more transparent and to protect American elections from unlawful influence. “Facebook prohibited 5 percent of our ads for Veterans Day gatherings. Facebook also prohibited 18 percent of national park ads linking to government websites.”
  • Trump Says He’s Open to Working with Democrats in Regulating Social Media Companies like Facebook and Twitter (CNBC). Some options to regulate social media companies include enacting privacy regulations, similar to those being imposed in Europe. Trump warned it would be a balancing act between protecting free speech and finding adequate legal boundaries.
  • A Russian Troll Farm Set an Elaborate Social Media Trap for the Midterms — and No One Bit (NBC News). A website claiming to be run by an infamous troll farm tried to tip journalists and spread fear of election meddling, but failed to generate any serious attention. While social media companies have gotten more serious about preventing the spread of disinformation, hate speech, propaganda, and foreign election interference, some say the issue will never be fixed.

Learn:

  • Everything You Need to Know About LinkedIn Video in 2019 (Hootsuite Blog). LinkedIn has been putting more emphasis on video. This in-depth article tells you everything you need to know, from the video specifications to how to set up video ads. Plus, a nice list of video content ideas.
  • How 4 Shifts at Facebook Will Affect Communicators (PR News). The skinny: ‘Facebook Zero’ is here, Stories gain popularity, video ads could be a better buy than News Feed, and Messenger has become the private news feed for users. Read on to see how to take advantage of these trends.

Chart of the Week:

Top 10 Video Trends [Infographic] (MarketingProfs). Also from the infographic: Video is becoming more search-friendly; thanks to AI and closed captions.

Live streaming is the top video trend for 2018.
The top video trend for 2018 is live streaming.

Social Media Rundown: Twitter Fights Bots; Facebook Shows Decline in Europe; Gab is the Fringe Forum of Choice for Extremists

The top social media stories of the week focus on two familiar social networking giants (Facebook and Twitter) and one that is likely only familiar to a few (Gab). For the unfamiliar, Gab is a fringe social networking site that promises a guarantee of free speech, no matter how offensive. Robert D. Bowers, the suspect who allegedly opened fire on the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh grew a large following on Gab — where he had a verified account — by sharing a steady stream of anti-Semitic statements.

As the major social media companies make important changes in their platforms to curtail the spread of fake news and limit hate speech by banning users who violate their self-set community standards, new platforms like Gab will continue to crop up. When extremists are banned from one social networking site, they usually just move to another platform, which is often a fringe forum, “where there is far less content to counter many of the false conspiracy claims that people being radicalized are likely to see.”

On that note, Twitter is busy making it easier to report fake accounts; although I remain skeptical that adding the reporting option “the account tweeting this is fake” will have much of an impact. Meanwhile, despite its good intentions, the Twitter Midterms Page was flooded with hyperpartisan and false news shortly after launch.

Be sure to check out the two charts below to see how ubiquitous Facebook has become. And don’t skip the learn section for an inside look at the social media strategy of the Financial Times and how to combine email and social ads for better conversions.

Social Media News:

  • Twitter Now Lets You Report Accounts That You Suspect Are Bots (The Verge). In Twitter’s ongoing fight against spammers and fake accounts, you can now select “it’s suspicious or spam” on a tweet to see the option “the account tweeting this is fake.”
  • Zuckerberg Says the Future Is Sharing via 100b Messages & 1b Stories/Day (TechCrunch). Stories are where the majority of Facebook sharing growth is happening, and Facebook Stories are gaining momentum after a slow and buggy start. Look no further than these stats to see just how popular Messenger has become:
Facebook Messenger is now the company's most popular product with 1.3 billion monthly active users and 10 billion messages sent each month.
Facebook Messenger is becoming more and more popular with 1.3 billion people using the service each month.
  • Twitter Just Launched a Midterms Page and It’s Already Surfacing Trolls and False, Hyperpartisan News (BuzzFeed News). Just hours into its rollout, the ‘latest’ tab on the Midterms Page was promoting hyperpartisan and false news, as well as tweets from seemingly automated accounts.
  • The Pittsburgh Suspect Lived in the Web’s Darkest Corners (The Atlantic). Robert Bowers was an avid user of Gab, a social network popular among white nationalists and the alt-right. Gab allows users to say pretty much anything they want. The social networking site’s maximalist approach to free speech has made it the de facto home of extremist figures who have been banned from mainstream social networks for making threats, inciting violence, or promoting racist, sexist, and anti-Semitic ideas.

Learn:

  • Inside the Social Media Strategy at the Financial Times (Simon Owens via Medium). The Financial Times is projected to hit 1 million paying digital subscribers by next year, and has done so while maintaining a hard paywall. According to FT’s head of social media, their strategy is not all that different than if they were operating without a paywall. “Putting this stuff on social in a compelling way, a shareable way, in a way people like and want to engage with, is a good practice for us. It gets our journalism out in front of more people than it would otherwise. And also, it helps us reach audiences we wouldn’t otherwise.”
  • How to Combine Facebook Ads and Email Marketing for Better Conversions (Social Media Examiner). Read on to learn how to use Facebook ads with email marketing to improve conversions in three steps.

Chart of the Week:

Facebook’s User Base Is Declining in Europe, and That Ought to Terrify Its American Bosses (BusinessInsider). Facebook has more users in Europe than it does in the US. The downshift comes after the Cambridge Analytica privacy scandal and the implementation of GDPR.

Facebook Monthly Active Users in Europe has shown a decline in the first three quarter of 2018.
Monthly Active Users on Facebook has shown a drop in growth in Europe for the first time in the company’s history.