What You Need to Know About Facebook Reactions

(Featured image via Tech Insider)

On February 24, 2016, Facebook launched an update that was a long time coming – Facebook Reactions. Since the advent of the Like button the public has asked for its counterpart, a dislike button. Though Facebook didn’t give its users exactly what they wanted, the world’s largest social network did release 5 other “reactions:” Love, Haha, Wow, Sad and Angry. Facebook CEO and Founder Mark Zuckerberg made the announcement via his Facebook Page (naturally):

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Zuckerberg argued that not every post calls for a Like and thus 5 Reactions were released in order to fill this void.

 

Users React to Facebook Reactions

Some people were delighted by the release:

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While others were skeptical:

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In December 2014, Mark Zuckerberg explained why a Dislike button would never appear on Facebook saying:

“The like button is really valuable because it’s a way for you to very quickly express a positive emotion or sentiment when someone puts themselves out there and shares something. Some people have asked for a dislike button because they want to be able to say, ‘That thing isn’t good.’ That’s not something that we think is good. We’re not going to build that, and I don’t think there needs to be a voting mechanism on Facebook about whether posts are good or bad. I don’t think that’s socially very valuable or good for the community to help people share the important moments in their lives.”

And upon the launch of Reactions, Geoff Teehan, Product Design Director at Facebook, posted a lengthy post on Medium describing Reactions and the lack of a Dislike button:

“People need a much higher degree of sophistication and richness in what choices we provide for their communications. Binary ‘like’ and ‘dislike’ doesn’t properly reflect how we react to the vast array of things we encounter in our real lives.”

Others have speculated a Dislike button will never appear because advertisers will “dislike” it if their advertising dollars are spent being publicly ridiculed on the platform and thus may take their business elsewhere.

Another concern is that a Dislike button would cause bullying. Paper Magazine reported that model Cara Delevingne expressed her disapproval of a Dislike button, saying “If you can go around disliking someone’s pictures, that is going to set off a whole new wave of bullying. If it’s something that is going to cause people harm, I really think we should steer against that. ‘Like’ away – but if you have a bad thought about someone, keep it to yourself.”
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Lastly, some brands used Reactions as a marketing opportunity:

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Will Reactions enhance or diminish user experience?

Facebook launched Reactions in order to give users more ways to express themselves with the click of a button. According to Wired, about a year ago “Mark Zuckerberg had finally conceded that the platform needed a more nuanced way for users to interact with posts, for the obvious reason that not every post is likable.” Facebook users have had the option to like and comment on posts since 2009. This elevated the social interactions on Facebook, allowing users to rate a post “similar to how you might rate a restaurant.” Leah Pearlman told CNet in February 2009, when the feature began rolling out. She continued describing the feature: “We think of the new ‘Like’ feature to be the stars, and the comments to be the review.” Seven years and over 1 billion more users later, it seems the “Like” button no longer suffices.

Over the years Facebook has become more and more integrated into our everyday lives. As of July 2015, active Facebook users around the world spend over 20 minutes per day on the network (it doubles to over 40 minutes when only considering US users), accounting for 20% of all time online. Users use Facebook to stay up to date with friends, family, current events, favorite brands, celebrities and more. Additionally, being logged into Facebook means you can log into other sites and apps, such as review sites, social apps, ticket vendor sites, shopping sites and others, with the touch of a button (the “Login with Facebook” button) – no need to memorize yet another password.

With all this time being spent on Facebook, being able to express more feeling with the click of a button (versus taking the time to think of a comment and type it out on a post) will likely increase the amount of communication a user has with other users and Facebook Pages. Or at least this is what Facebook hopes to achieve. Additionally, according to Facebook, 90 percent of active Facebook users use the platform via a mobile device. Julie Zhuo, product designer for Facebook, told Wired, “Commenting might afford nuanced responses, but composing those responses on a keypad takes too much time. People needed a way to leave feedback that was quick, easy, and gesture-based.” Facebook users were using emojis so why not build the emojis directly into the social network?

Why did Facebook make the change?

Facebook Reactions (1)

(Sources: Forbes, Wired and Slate)

While Zuckerbeg did give us some insight into why Facebook decided to move forward with Reactions, we can only speculate additional reasons. Since Facebook is first and foremost a business, continuing to find new ways to receive more revenue is definitely behind the motivation behind this change. Richer data will help Facebook determine what it serves their users in their Newsfeeds. Additionally, giving advertisers and marketers more tools to more effectively reach their intended audiences is important to keeping their business.

Also, although Facebook is the largest social network, it can go by the way of Myspace if it doesn’t continue to evolve to give users more options and the experience they desire while using the platform. While Facebook didn’t give users a Dislike button, it is giving users a new way to interact with peers, news organizations and brands. Keeping an interested and engaged network of users is key to Facebook’s continued success.

How will Reactions affect brands on Facebook?

Reactions can be a great tool for brands and their social media managers. The Reactions will help brands understand who their audience is in a new, deeper way. Additionally, brands can breathe a collective sigh of relief as Facebook announced any Reactions will have the same impact as a Like; as long as someone is interacting with your page, they will continue to see your content in their Newsfeed….at least for now.

Of course, Reactions do bring challenges to the table.

Since Reactions are so new, third party tools, such as Hootsuite, NUVI, Radian6 and others, haven’t caught up to this update yet. They won’t differentiate between likes and specific Facebook reactions, which means reporting will be far more manual until they do catch up. Additionally, if you are monitoring competitors through a third party tool, you’ll have to visit their pages to see what posts get Likes, Loves, Hahas, Wows, Sads, and Angrys.

Another concern is so-called Internet Trolls, defined by Wikipedia as “a person who sows discord on the Internet by starting arguments or upsetting people, by posting inflammatory, extraneous, or off-topic messages in an online community the deliberate intent of provoking readers into an emotional response or of otherwise disrupting normal on-topic discussion, often for their own amusement.” Those who are just messing with these new Reactions may react with a “Haha” to a serious post or an “Angry” to a playful post. It’s not clear yet if this will be a problem brands encounter but brands do need to be aware of this possibility.

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(It’s important to note that originally Facebook had planned to include a Yay reaction but during beta testing discovered very few users used it)

Even though Facebook Reactions weren’t warmly welcomed by all users, it’s clear Facebook is determined to make them successful. While we don’t yet have data on how many Likes, Loves, Hahas, Wows, Sads and Angrys have been use to date, scrolling down one’s Facebook feed it’s clear that users are embracing this new feature.

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RIP Instagram?

Social media users express their dissatisfaction with Instagram’s announcement of their move to an algorithmic feed 

Earlier this week Instagram announced that the 400+ million users strong platform will soon be switching from their chronological timeline to an algorithmic feed. In their announcement, the 5-year-old, Facebook-owned company explained that “people miss on average 70 percent of their feeds” and an algorithm will optimize users’ experiences on the platform by showing them posts Instagram thinks they will like most.

AdWeek

Adweek said this change was inevitable. Was it though?

Social media users were not happy about this announcement, taking to Instagram and other social media platforms to express their dissatisfaction with this update. Two hashtags – #RIPInstagram and #KeepInstagramChronological– even began to trend on Twitter as the news broke.

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People also expressed their anger via Facebook’s newly launched Reactions(maybe Facebook should have announced this change after Instagram’s algorithm announcement…) and via comments on posts reporting about this change.
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Almost all of the comments on the above Social Media Today article post were negative. Some even wrote that they think that Facebook is just trying to get more money out of marketers, not trying to make user experience better.
  • “I always love how social networks think they know what I love best. There are many things I’d love to get first on Instagram – like notifications that aren’t all clumped in one spot. It’s a nightmare for big brands to see all comments, likes and new followers together. Clearly a move to leverage ads more.” –Nycole Hampton
Other comments included:
  • “And so it begins… First the algorithm, then the further decline in organic reach and engagement. Instagram is now the new Facebook” –Sarah Hudnall
  • “Ugh, this is going to be the death of Instagram. All you’ll get is sponsored posts and the stuff from people with millions of followers. Everything else will just vanish.” –Lee Osborne
  • “Not happy at all. I don’t like letting strangers to decide what I can and what I can’t see on my feed. A further step to Instagram facebookization.” –Federica Scrigner
A petition was even created in an attempt to stop this change before it launches in a few months. Last I checked it had over 176,000 signatures.
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Is this change a wise move? Many argue that Instagram has enjoyed its popularity because of its simple, chronological feed, and if it moves to an algorithmic feed it will lose its uniqueness.
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I recently read (and tweeted) an excellent article posted on Medium about the real-time messaging service Slack. The author argued that Slack shot to popularity, barreling past competitors, due to a few key aspects, one of which was social isolation. Slack is a very quick moving platform. This serves a very important purpose: “if you don’t follow Slack all the time you do not and cannot take part in the conversation with your team members anymore.” THIS is what Instagram will lose out on — the social isolation and therefore addiction to the app. The chronological order of photos almost forces users to constantly check the app so they don’t miss out on anything.
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With this in mind, will Snapchat fill the void that the algorithmic version of Instagram will create? Snapchat stories only last 24 hours, so if you don’t view a friend’s story in that small time frame, you’ll never see their story, which can create social isolation.
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One commenter, David Mollison, on the above post thinks so. He said: “Terrible idea. Snap Chat [sic] will take over because of this.”

How Google Is Changing Journalism

As user generated content (UGC) becomes more prevalent and relied upon by journalists for reporting the news quickly, the need for authentication has grown. Google has played a large role in this. Tools like Google Search, Google Maps and others have allowed journalists to research UGC information, photos and videos so they only disseminate the facts. Let’s look at a few.

Google News Lab

Launched in mid-2015, Google News Lab aims to “empower innovation at the intersection of technology and media.” The site offers written and video tutorials and case studies for journalists so they can more effectively use Google’s tools for verifying UGC. It also includes data gleaned from Google Trends and case studies o
n how newsrooms have used this data in their reporting. TechCrunch notes, “With citizen reporters regularly turning to social media first – and not typically on Google+, the company’s own social media site – Google is working to assert the variety of other ways it has to participate in the reporting process, ranging from first-hand videos posted to YouTube to its wealth of data and information collected from the world’s searchers.”

Though the tools on the site are not new, the tutorials are; Google recognizes its role in reporting the news and is showcasing its commitment to helping news organizations report valid information.

YouTube

According to Google, 300 videos are uploaded to YouTube every minute. Identifying which are original, real and timely can be difficult for reporters. Amnesty International has created a step-by-step guide for authenticating videos using the information found on the YouTube user’s video and account. Steps include viewing how many videos the YouTube user has posted in the past, hidden data on the video, YouTube account creation date, checking geographical data (is the video you’re trying to authenticate captured in the same area as the other videos posted by the same account?), checking social media accounts associated with the YouTube account, and searching YouTube with keywords found in the video in question.

Additionally, Google partnered with Storyful to create YouTube Newswire, which authenticates videos for journalists’ use.

Google Search & Image Search

After emergencies, many images are uploaded to social media claiming to be taken during or right after the emergency. Some may be real, but others may be shares of the original photos, doctored photos or old images of a past, similar emergency. For shares and old images, journalists can use reverse image search on Google to authenticate a picture. The video below outlines how to do this. For doctored images, journalists will have to use FotoForensics.com or a similar tool.

Google+

Journalists can use Google+ to join groups like Storyful’s Open Newsroom, which is a “real-time community of news professionals working together to establish the maximum clarity and context around the big stories of the day. Our objective is to debunk, fact-check, clarify, credit and source.”

Google Maps

Google Maps is a useful feature for authenticating videos and images. Do the terrain, buildings, and other identifying items in the video/image in question match that of the Google terrain maps, satellite maps and Street View images? If not, a journalist can automatically discount the content.

Google Translate

Translating can be especially important for video that is recorded and uploaded in a language a journalist doesn’t speak. For this, journalists can use Google Translate. Copying and pasting a video’s title, caption and/or subtitles into Google Translate can help with deciphering exactly what the video is claiming to be.

Example

Curious to see what verification looks like in action? Below is an example via Nieman Reports.

(Source: Nieman Reports)

(Source: Nieman Reports)

Watch the video here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=16&v=UI8S5kO-vEM

youtube-1158693_1920*All videos in this article have been authenticated for originality.

 

 

11 Tips: How to Reach Homebuyers on Facebook

Now that you know why you should be using Facebook and other social media platforms, below is how to use Facebook to reach your audience and sell more homes.

Be useful to your followers

Share content potential homebuyers, potential home sellers, current homeowners, and new homeowners will find useful. You don’t want to just sell, sell, sell. Your followers will quickly lose interest and will likely unfollow you. Many of your followers will probably be past clients; they already have homes so receiving listing notifications probably won’t be very compelling for this group.

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Post original content

Posting original content will help bring clients to your website. Blog posts, white papers, and original images are great ways to drive more traffic to your website.

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Share 

Sharing articles from your brokerage or news organizations help your posts reach a larger audience. If someone follows your page and the page of the content you are sharing, they are far more likely to see your post. Screen Shot 2016-02-28 at 10.54.50 PM

Engage with your followers

Respond to any comments you receive. After all, Facebook is a social network.

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Use (relevant) trending topics and hashtags

Looking at Facebook’s Trending Topics (on the right-hand side of your personal newsfeed) will give you an idea of what is popular at the moment. Using this knowledge, you can reach a wider audience.

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Occasionally post your listings

When you post about your listings on Facebook, include high-resolution photos and rich details about the property. Don’t forget to add a link to your website!

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Post videos

Change things up from the ordinary property photos and give your followers a better feel for your listing by posting a high quality video.

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Broadcast via Facebook Live Videos

A new feature, Live Videos allow you to broadcast live video from your iPhone or Android to your Facebook Page. You can use this feature to create a virtual open house or to give followers a behind the scenes look at a new condo development. Making this new feature even more appealing, Facebook just announced today that Live videos will be ranked more highly in News Feeds. Meaning, your Live Video will be viewed by more individuals than a regular video post. Here are tips for getting started with Live Videos.

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(I couldn’t find a realtor who is using this tool yet. Even more reason to start using it. Stand out from the crowd!)

Show community involvement

Did you help build a Habitat for Humanity home? Did you run a 5k in support of cancer research? Let your fans know and be sure to include the event hashtag to reach a wider audience.

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Show off

Recently sold a house? Won an award? Featured in an article or local TV news? Let your fans know!

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Advertise

Facebook continues to make it more difficult for Facebook Page content to reach your audience.

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Want some more social media tips? Here’s why you should keep your social media posts brief and here is how to write the perfect Facebook post.

 

Snackable Content is King

There’s no question: Facebook is changing the way news is consumed. Some news outlets, such as BuzzFeed, have even begun to tailor their articles to increase the likelihood that their article gets shared on the platform. Facebook, and other social media platforms, allows news organization to reach a wider audience, so it follows that news organizations alter the way they report the news in order to increase readership.

Realizing this trend of news reporting and news reading via Facebook (and hoping to capitalize on this), Facebook has begun rolling out several tools specifically for journalists.

Instant Articles

Published natively to Facebook, Instant Articles (and the advertisements) load within a mere second or two. News publishers upload their articles directly to Facebook, add their advertisers to the article, and share it on Facebook. Readers can load the content more quickly because they don’t need to load an external webpage and/or another app. Plus, it keeps readers on the platform.

Mentions

Created first for celebrities and then rolled out to journalists, Mentions allow for easier engagement with fans and readers.

Signal

A platform specifically for keeping up to date with what is trending on Facebook, Signal allows journalists to source content from the platform.

(Source: Giphy)

What’s next

Just today, Facebook announced they will allow independent writers to publish Instant Articles. Although the articles must first be uploaded to a website, this opens up the doors for nearly anyone to become a reporter. “Citizen journalists” might just take on a new meaning as Facebook rolls out this new feature.

Additionally Michael Reckhow, the product manager for Instant Articles, told Nieman Lab that he envisions that “individual pieces of media inside the article can break out and have a life of their own.” These pieces of media may then become stories apart from the larger article. This type of snackable content will likely become huge in the coming years (more on snackable content later).

I also believe video, especially short ones with captions, will become more widely used on Facebook. One news organization that is already doing this is Business Insider. They post short 1-3 minute videos that highlight the most important pieces of the video; some videos don’t even include speech. This feeds information to their followers quickly and also opens up a dialogue in the comments section.

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Snackable content is king

According to Slate, a full 38% leave an article before even reaching the end of the first paragraph. We are in “the age of skimming,” the article continues. Posting short articles and videos directly to Facebook (like the Instant Articles pieces of media and the Business Insider video mentioned above) help Facebook users to consume more content.

(Image via Smart Blogs)

(Source: Smart Blogs)

Rented Land

Posting content natively to Facebook does, of course, does raise a few eyebrows. And for good reason: should news outlets place all of their content on “rented land?” Mark Zuckerberg makes a compelling argument. News organizations are beginning to shift toward posting content directly to Facebook for a reason – they are seeing results and receiving ad dollars that could be spent with a competitor if they don’t receive said results.

Looking ahead

Will Facebook become the number one source of news in the coming years? Only time will tell, but it seems they are investing a great deal of effort and research to reach this point.

Storytelling in the Digital Age

Recognizing the changing landscape of how people communicate and receive information, journalists and news organizations have changed the way they investigate, source and tell the news. One such reporter is Paul Lewis, the west coast bureau chief for The Guardian. He is active on Twitter, Vine and Instagram and uses social media to find sources for his stories.

In his 2011 TEDx Talk, Lewis touts the power of citizen journalism and encourages journalists to embrace crowd sourcing information: “accept that you can’t know everything and allow other people through technology be your eyes and ears.” Social media allows the general public to co-produce the news, he continues, and journalists should welcome this collaborative approach to storytelling. He then outlines how he used Twitter to uncover information in two murder cases: the mysterious death of Angolan refugee, Jimmy Mubenga, on British airways Flight 77, and the death of Ian Tomlinson at the g20 protests in London. Witnesses from across the globe spoke up through social media to tell their side of the story and provide photographs, audio and video to help Lewis write his story. See the full TEDx Talk below.

Though his TEDx Talk was recorded in 2011, Lewis continues to use social media in similar ways today. Since he is a bureau chief, he posts on a variety of topics, some stories of his own, some stories from other Guardian reporters, some stories from other publications, and also personal commentary and live tweeting of events. Most of his posts are regarding politics, technology, and world news.

For example, during the unrest in Ferguson, Missouri, following the death of Michael Brown, Lewis used Vine to show short videos of the protests happening there. In the caption, he added a link to the full version of the video that could be found on theguardian.com.

 

More recently, though, he has been covering the 2016 presidential campaign. He live tweets (and admits to typos) and asks questions of his followers:

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He also posts pictures and short videos directly to Twitter to give his followers a feel for the atmosphere he is experiencing:

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He retweets stories that mention him and also some that don’t. In the below story, Lewis went hunting with Donald Trump’s sons:

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Before he ran the story above, he posted a teaser on Instagram. Although he doesn’t have a large following on Instagram, it still elicited a response from one of his followers. Maybe he will soon start utilizing this medium more often.

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Lewis’ tweets regarding the 2016 presidential race aren’t falling on deaf ears. The Pew Research Center discovered that social media is the preferred method of learning political news for Millennials. The research shows that in the 2016 presidential campaign, “about a third (35%) of 18 to 29-year-olds name a social networking site as their most helpful source type for learning about the presidential election in the past week. This is about twice that of the next nearest type – news websites and apps (18%), another digital stream of information.” Below is a break down by age of how individuals are learning of the 2016 presidential race:

Paul Lewis demonstrates the power and influence social media can have on the news and even on justice. He recognizes that the public is a wonderful source of information and uses social media to gather content for his stories. Additionally, he uses social media to interact with his audience in real time, live-tweeting quotes, facts, and commentary along with images and videos to give his followers a more comprehensive understanding of his stories.

 

What Realtors NEED to Know About Social Media Marketing

 

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Social media is a cost effective way to reach homebuyers. And, according to the California Association of Realtors, they want to hear from you: “91% of buyers are receptive to receiving information about the home buying process directly from their agent via social media.” Homebuyers use social media for buying tips, neighborhood information, and viewing their agent’s Facebook Page, among other reasons.

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(Source: California Association of Realtors)

Because realtors’ number one source of new business is referrals from past clients, it’s important to stay in front of them. In fact, 74% of clients will give you a referral if you stay in touch.

The below infographic further demonstrates why it’s important to be active on social media, but how can you be a successful social media marketer? Let’s explore.

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(Source of statistics: CAR, Contactually, Realty Times, Reminder Media, Timperis)

Optimize Your Profile

So, you’ve created a few new social media profiles; now make sure to optimize them. Choose your profile image carefully as this is how your followers will be able to quickly identify you, and use a high resolution cover photo that you think defines you (possibly your city’s skyline or a picture of your team). Complete the “About” section to include a bio, contact information, your website, and other social media profiles. Make it easy for people to know get a feel for who you are. 

Be Informative

One way to lose followers is by solely posting your listings. This is not relevant for past clients who recently purchased a new home, and if they decide to stop following you, they’re likely to forget you (see statistic on this in the above infographic). Instead, post useful articles, such as:

  • Home trends
  • Information, news and events about local neighborhoods
  • DIY home improvement projects
  • Home maintenance tips
  • Beautiful pictures of your city
  • Original blog posts linking back to your website

This makes your posts valuable to the majority of your followers. Posting a new listing is fine from time to time, but follow the 80/20 rule as closely as possible: only 20% of you posts should be self-promotional and 80% should be dedicated to content that really interests your audience.

Advertise

Facebook’s advertising is very robust and allows for targeting by location, interests, behaviors, language, net worth, gender, age and more. This is great way to ensure you are putting yourself in front of the right people. You can boost specific posts, attract people to your website, gain more followers and more. Read more about Facebook Advertising here.

How to Create the Perfect Facebook Post

(Source: Screen capture via BuzzFeed Facebook Page. Mark up is original.)

 

News Whip recently released the biggest publishers on Facebook in October 2015, ranked by total shares. After reviewing each of the top ten most shared publishers, I came to notice a few similarities. Below I analyze the posts to discover how each of these publishers gained so many shares.

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(Source: News Whip)

Each organization knows their audience and speaks to them in their vernacular (see: BuzzFeed post above). BuzzFeed, LittleThings.com, and Breitbart post dramatic captions using single words, questions, exclamation points, ellipses and capitalization of key words to attract clicks to their websites, while more news-centric organizations like Huffington Post, Fox News, The Guardian, The New York Times, BBC and Yahoo, post short, descriptive captions, occasionally including quotes from the article being posted.  Lastly, NBC deserves to be in its own category because although it posts in the format of the news-centric organizations, its content surrounds their TV shows, not news. All of the organizations, post frequently (between 10 and 20 times a day), use short captions, compelling article titles and provoking photos, and tag companies/celebrities when appropriate.

BuzzFeed is notorious for their clickbait posts, but in my opinion they aren’t even the worst of the offenders. Both LittleThings.com (which posts “the most amazing” stories from around the world) and Breitbart (the conservative political version of LittleThings.com) post overly dramatic captions to attract viewers to click on their posts. Captions like: “The reason why will give you chills…,” “Can you BELIEVE this makeover?! I’m stunned!,” and “And there’s ONE thing driving it all…” are commonplace on BuzzFeed, LittleThings.com and Breitbart. In addition to their clickbait article titles and captions, each of these three organizations:

  1. Use short captions, usually lacking in description
  2. Rely on the article’s image to tell some of the story (a few images even seem to be intentionally cropped so that it further entices the viewer to click to view the rest of the photo)
  3. Don’t include a link in the caption
  4. Don’t use subtitles (most of the time)

Honestly, the above posts seem cheap to me and only a few organizations can get away with this sort of clickbait. Whenever I read them I can’t help but think of the famous voiceover actor Dan LaFontaine, famous for his “In a world…” trailers:

And, I’m not the only one who thinks sensational captions are cheesy. On using approach, Hootsuite declares, “All of this intense expression, all of the time, is unsustainable for any person or brand and comes off as inauthentic. If you want your brand’s authority and clout to remain intact, using hyperboles or overly exaggerated words in your social media content is something you want to avoid.”

The news-centric organizations mentioned above are more my style. It seems they follow the same formula as the aforementioned organizations with three exceptions – their captions are aren’t clickbait (instead they are more descriptive), they post much more video directly to Facebook, and they include quotes from those interviewed in the articles/videos. Even with these exceptions, the posts are still shared many times over.

After reviewing posts from these more news-centric organizations, I did discover that more sensational news stories and lifestyle posts received relatively more like and shares. See the National Cheese Lovers Day post from The New York Times below.

 

So, what makes a perfect Facebook article post? A short caption that resonates with your audience and relevant imagery.

3 Emerging Social Media Trends to Watch for in 2016

The ever-evolving world of social media keeps marketers on their toes – adaptive, well informed, and creative marketers will ensure efficiency and success. Read the below to ensure an auspicious year ahead.

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 Virtual reality leaps into social media

Over the past few years there has been a great deal of buzz surrounding Oculus Rift, HTC Vive and other virtual reality (VR) headsets. Now as Oculus Rifts begin shipping to their early adopter owners in March 2016, we will finally witness widespread use of VR. Yes, many of its purchasers are primarily interested in the gaming aspect of the headsets, but social media will launch VR into the mainstream. According to Business Insider, “social is, and has always been, the application that drives technologies forward.” The article continues, VR “painting 3D objects in mid-air, visiting an underwater shipwreck and cooking in a virtual kitchen is extremely fun, but it’s nothing if you can’t share in these experiences with others.” UploadVR.com asserts that VR will elevate social media, arguing that social media is in still in its infancy and VR will personalize online social interactions through the addition of expressiveness. In early previews of VR, the journalist found that when using VR, “people are behaving very similarly to how they would offline.” This is something that until now has been impossible. He finishes the article by observing, “the world is becoming a global society, a Global Village, to borrow from Marshall McLuhan and VR is the next big step in taking us there.”

Cementing the notion that VR will introduce new ways to socialize with others online, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg acquired Oculus VR in March 2014. He made the announcement on Facebook (naturally) saying that Oculus Rift “is really a new communication platform. By feeling truly present, you can share unbounded spaces and experiences with the people in your life. Imagine sharing not just moments with your friends online, but entire experiences and adventures.”

One-on-one communication expands

Another trend will be the continued rise of messenger apps. eMarketer explains this growing trend, “as more consumers gain mobile internet access worldwide and flock to messaging apps as cheaper alternatives to SMS, MMS and voice calls.” There is no shortage of these apps: WeChat, Facebook’s Messenger, WhatsApp, Slack, Viber, Luka.ai, Line, Snapchat and newly launched Peach are all messaging apps with slightly different features. Personally, I regularly use four of these apps to communicate with friends and co-workers.

Alphabet (Google’s parent company) also sees the value of these apps; they are reportedly developing an app to compete with these platforms. According to International Business Times, “Google will tap its artificial intelligence know-how and incorporate chatbots — which answer questions — to get a slice of the 2-billion user business and help preserve its lead in search.”

2016 will see the continued expansion of these apps: already Facebook partnered with Uber so users can order a ride right from Facebook’s Messenger app; Snapchat partnered with Square to let friends to send each other money; and China’s WeChat is probably the most advanced, allowing users to bank, control home appliances, buy clothes and order food. This integration into our everyday lives will continue to evolve, bringing users convenience, but more importantly for the apps, keeping users on their platforms. The question now is which app will pull ahead of the others.

Live video captivates

Periscope, Meerkat, and soon-to-launch Facebook live video allow users to share real-time experiences with friends and/or strangers alike while interacting with the viewers. Having used Periscope and Meerkat both personally and professionally, I prefer Periscope; it is cleaner, has a larger user-base, and allows users to record the session for later viewing.

According to Entrepreneur, these apps, already popular with the general public, provide great opportunity for brands, celebrities and media outlets. According to the article, these live video apps create an interactive “TV-esque” means of “making that real-time connection that today’s customers seek and value.”

One reporter explains the benefit of sharing news via Periscope in the below interview, “One of the great advantages is just the simple interactions. I was responding to the questions users were asking and things I wouldn’t think to have covered.”

Click the below video to watch.Screen Shot 2016-01-18 at 8.23.04 AM(Video source: CNN)

Social media will become an even greater part of our everyday lives. Socializing through Oculus Rift, ordering an Uber through Facebook Messenger, and watching live events unfold before you while being able to interact with the videographer are all testaments to this.

How to tell a story in the digital age

Recently I read a TechCrunch article regarding how technology will advance in the next five years. TechCrunch tweeted the below:

 

5 things that will disappear in 5 years

Screenshot via twitter.com

Entitled “5 Things That Will Disappear in 5 Years,” the succinct, descriptive article title immediately grabbed my attention. The summary (under the photo) intrigued me further. Including just the first couple of sentences, the article begins, “Just five years ago the world was a very different place. In 2010…” These simple first few words made me think: Where was technology five short years ago? What technology do I use today that didn’t exist in 2010? Five years seems like a short period of time, yet technology has advanced greatly. What conveniences will modern technology bring us in the next 5 years?

Lastly, the accompanying picture caused me to consider (maybe “hope” is a better word here) TV remote controls would soon disappear. No more searching the couch cushions!

tumblr_mql6q4uaxu1qdlh1io1_400Gif via Wiffle Gif

An attention grabbing title, thought-provoking first couple of sentences, and accompanying photo compelled me to click through to discover which five technologies will no longer be relevant in 2020.

The article begins by laying a foundation: the author describes what technologies were emerging five years ago and asserts that “we haven’t look back.” Instead of a traditional storytelling format like the inverted pyramid or story arc, the author uses a list format. The author keeps the reader hooked by listing each soon-to-be bygone item in bold followed by a description of what new technology will replace it. I was intrigued to learn what conveniences I can soon look forward to.

I also clicked the tweet because I am interested in this subject matter. I believe Techcrunch’s target audience consists of Millennials who grew up using computers and the internet, as well as individuals in the technology industry. I follow Techcrunch on Twitter and Facebook, expecting to be cognizant of technological advances.

This article provided information based on expert speculation. It was laid out in such a way that made me want to continue reading, wondering what will soon be tools of yesteryear.