Even the most conservative advertiser follows the audience to Facebook

Rapidly changing how it communicates with Canadians, the federal government is on pace to spend more on Facebook ads in the Liberals’ first year in office than it did between 2006 and 2014 combined.

Here’s a sign of the times. Government is a risk-averse, conservative institution. Traditionally a heavy user of print and television advertising, the rapid increase in the federal government’s Facebook spend is clear indication of where we, the audience, now spend our time.

Other interesting facts in this report:

  • “The Liberal government spent at least $3.8 million on Facebook ads between November 2015 and June 2016 targeting Canadians and foreigners of various age groups and demographics, and is on pace to spend well over $6 million during Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s first year in office…”
  • “In the 2011-12 fiscal year, just over 10 per cent of federal government media placements purchased through its agency of record were on the Internet (including search and display ads, and paid social media ads). That number more than doubled to over 25 per cent of media placements by 2014-15.”

The data was released in response to a written question from Conservative MP Martin Shields and reported by Jason Fekete in the Ottawa Citizen. Click the link below to read Fekete’s complete report and find a link to the source document on Scribd.

Source: Liberals have spent more on Facebook ads than total amount spent between 2006 and 2014

Talking about the New York Times creating video for Facebook

Gini Dietrich, Martin Waxman and Joseph Thornley are back with another episode of the Inside PR podcast.  


Martin Waxman’s Social Media Marketing for Small Business is on Lynda.com

Yes, this is a shameless plug. But since it’s Joe writing this, Martin doesn’t have to be embarrassed. In fact, I think Martin is as smart about social media as anyone I know. And now Martin is sharing this knowledge on Lynda.com. Martin tells us about his trip to California to record a video course, Social Media Marketing  for Small Business.

Buzzfeed News isn’t entertainment

Buzzfeed separated its Buzzfeed news operation from the Buzzfeed entertainment operation. Prelude to a possible sale of Fuzzfeed News. Buzzfeed News Editor-in-Chief Ben Smith says no.

WhatsApp shares user data with Facebook

As happens so often with privacy concerns, after an initial spate of bad press, public protestations about Facebook’s decision to share user data from WhatsApp with Facebook seems to have died down. Our concern with privacy is something that spikes occasionally. But then we put it out of mind as we enjoy the experience of social media.

Wired tells us about teens and social media

A few things in Wired’s profile of teens and social media caught Gini’s eye. There are a lot of do’s and don’t’s. It’s not about understanding young people. It’s about looking at the social mores being established by a cohort that doesn’t have the baggage of previously shaped expectations and behaviour, a cohort that can lead the way in assessing new channels and defining norms of behaviour on them. As Martin says, “One generation’s romantic is another generation’s lurker.” (Apologies to John Cusack.)

The NY Times on Facebook

Liz Spayd, The New York Times Public Editor, recently offered her take on the content that The Times has been creating for Facebook. In her analysis, Facebook Live: Too Much, Too Soon, she states

“…here’s the problem. After watching countless hours of live video in the past few weeks, I have hit upon many that are either plagued by technical malfunctions, feel contrived, drone on too long, ignore audience questions or are simply boring, by I imagine most anyone’s standards.

“Too many don’t live up to the journalistic quality one typically associates with The New York Times.”

This leads Martin, Gini and I into a discussion of the nature of content appropriate to social media. It’s not always going to stand up to The Times’ traditional standards. But it will be effective in its new place, for different reasons.

Also worth noting in this article is something I hadn’t seen before. The New York Times has a contract to produce video content expressly for Facebook.

“While the terms of the deal are secret, the transaction requires Facebook to give The Times a guaranteed sum (reported to be $3 million a year) in return for a prescribed amount of video (so far it’s averaging upward of four a day). Neither Times officials nor Facebook would discuss the deal, citing confidentiality. Several other media companies, including BuzzFeed, Huffington Post and Mashable, have also signed on. Their job: to stock Facebook’s pond with high-quality video so it can compete in the rapidly growing market for live-stream video.”

The Times as content creator for Facebook. That’s something different from The Times posting its stories on Facebook. Different even from The Times posting its stories natively on Facebook. It is instead The Times creating content to meet Facebook’s needs. That is different – and worth watching.

Words to live (on the internet) by

They comment on other people’s posts.They like other people’s posts.They share them.They don’t always talk about themselves.They have kind words for other people.They help other people without expecting anything in return.Even so, they reciprocate when people help them out.They add positive energy to the net.They always try to see things from other people’s point of view.They genuinely listen.They stand up for people who are being hunted.They read posts before responding to them.

Thank you, Dave Winer, for reminding us that we don’t have to be part of the bad behaviour that seems to have become so much the norm on social networks. Small gestures by individuals can make a difference.

Source: What do nice Internet users do?

Why I won’t be using Twitter’s new content filters

Some new features to help you control what you see and who you interact with on Twitter

Twitter logo

Twitter opens a window on the world. We can see events as they occur through the eyes of first hand witnesses and we can discuss events and issues with others. We can be entertained. We can learn. We can expand our horizons.

Unfortunately, these positive experiences may be offset by exposure to trollish behaviour and harrassment.

Yesterday, Twitter announced two new features that will allow people to filter the content that they see in their notifications and main twitter stream. A new Quality Filter will suppress content that Twitter’s algorithm considers to be low quality, such as “duplicate Tweets or content that appears to be automated.” In addition, a new control will be added to the notifications pane to enable users to “limit notifications to only people they follow.”

Providing users with greater control over what gets into their Twitter feed will be welcomed by many.

I, however, do not plan to enable either feature. Why wouldn’t I use these features? For a couple of reasons.

First, because I curate my feed, the trolls don’t find their way into it. I am not a profligate follower. I don’t automatically follow everyone who follows me. I follow only those people who have caught my attention with their views and thoughtfulness or their humour or just the fact that they are interesting people. So, I rarely have the problem of seeing garbage content. And when I do see it, I unfollow or block the source.

Second, I don’t want an algorithm to make my content decisions for me. I especially do not want to be limited to seeing only the content of people whom I have already followed. I do want to be open to the person who I have never met but who comes into my notifications because he or she shares my interests and has responded to something I said. And that doesn’t mean just someone who agrees with me. It also means the people who disagree with me, but who offer something worth considering in their disagreement. I want to discover these people. Because contact with the people I disagree with is my protection against homophily, the tendency we all have to seek out and associate with the people we agree with, the people most like us.

Homophily is the enemy of open-mindedness. And my open Twitter feed, a feed that is open to discovery, is my protection against being trapped in the bubble of likemindedness.

And that’s why I won’t be using Twitter’s new filters. They may create a safer experience. But at a price. A price I’m not willing to pay.

WordPress 4.6 “Pepper”

Version 4..6 of WordPress, named “Pepper” in honor of jazz baritone saxophonist Park Frederick “Pepper” Adams III, is available for download or update in your WordPress dashboard.. New features in 4..6 help you to focus on the important things while feeling more at home..

I have been using WordPress since I launched ProPR.ca over a decade ago in 2005. And one of the things I look forward to are the videos they include with the notification of each upgrade to the platform.

Today’s it’s WordPress 4.6, named “Pepper.” And the video is straightforward and helpful. It doesn’t oversell. It tells me about the major changes and then gets out the way.

Hey WordPress team: Well done!

Source: WordPress 4.6 “Pepper”

Email and Twitter messages give behind the scenes picture of Ottawa sinkhole crisis management

Correspondence from key city officials after the massive sinkhole opened up reveal a scramble to control the situation — and the message.

In mid-morning June 8,  a gigantic sinkhole opened up in the middle of Ottawa‘s busiest shopping district. When I say gigantic, the sinkhole was big enough to swallow a van.

Luckily, no one was injured or killed. But the sinkhole broke gas mains, disrupted electricity to nearby businesses and close down one of the busiest intersections in Ottawa for several weeks. It also flooded the tunnel for auto was new LRT line, which was being bored beneath the location of the sinkhole.

Ottawa Council was sitting at the time of the incident. And you can only imagine what went on behind the scenes as the Mayor and Councillors pressed city staff and emergency workers on the scene for information to respond to news media questions. Well, actually, you can do more than image it. Thanks to the Ottawa Citizen, which filed an Access to Information request for the communications relating to the incident. The City of Ottawa delivered texts from email and twitter. On Friday, the Citizen published the verbatim highlights of the communications between the Mayor, Councillors, staff and contractors. And it makes interesting reading for anyone working in a communications position who have yet to have their first experience in real life crisis communications.

What do these communications show? People doing their jobs, trying to separate conjecture from fact and attempting to provide an honest, but responsible picture for the media and public of what they know and what was happening. Among the highlights:

  • This really was a “near miss.” Two city buses passed over the road only minutes before it collapsed.
  • In a world in which citizens provide witness to remarkable events, it was ironic that one of the first people to post a picture on twitter was a CTV weather announcer. Some days, you’re just in the right place at the right time.
  • Trolls will be trolls. Amidst the otherwise dry exchanges of information are a couple emails best not responded to. One writer copies Ottawa Jim Watson on an email addressed to Ontario’s Premier Kathleen Wynne sarcastically comparing Ottawa’s sinkhole to the province’s Climate Change Action Plan.
  • In the midst of things, you just have to find a moment to smile. One city staffer found humorous relief forwarding an article in The Beaverton that attributed the sinkhole to the weight of people waiting in line to use the bathroom at a nearby McDonald’s.

Bottom line: the emails give a good picture of a system working as it should. Contractors and staff getting to the bottom of things and working to fix them. Politicians responding to the public and media. A classic case of finding focus in chaos.

Source: Emails from city officials show chaos after Ottawa sinkhole opened

Perceived bias or real bias? Inside PR 451


Twitter opens verification to everyone. Yahoo closes an era. Anthony Ponce is a backseat rider. And the New York Times Public Editor shines a spotlight on the importance of perceived bias.

Gini Dietrich, Martin Waxman and Joseph Thornley cover these topics on Inside PR 451.


RIP Yahoo

Yahoo once was the directory of the internet. So, we couldn’t let it fade into oblivion without marking the event.

Verify me, Twitter

It has been a widely-coveted symbol – the Twitter blue verification check mark. Now, we all can apply for it. Many will be called, but few will be granted? Have you applied for Twitter verification under the new process? Has your application been approved?

Backseat Rider

Anthony Ponce left his job as an on-air news anchor to spend full-time driving tax and posting the stories he picks up to his Facebook page. An interesting experiment. Politicians long have known that the best briefing they could get when visiting a city is the discussion with the taxi driver. They go everywhere and see everything.

Bias in News Media Redux

This is the issue we live with on a day by day basis. It’s also something which viewers of Fox News seem to accept, even welcome. Liz Spayd, the recently-appointed Public Editor at the New York Times reminds us that perception and reality do not necessarily converge when it comes to the issue of bias in news coverage. We’ve talked a lot about bias and personal perspective. And Spayd’s column brings us back to this topic.

Listen to the full podcast

Download Inside PR 451.

Google Play extends sharing with Family Library

…we’re introducing Family Library, a way for up to six family members to share purchases on Google Play. When you buy an eligible app, game, movie, TV show, or book in the Play Store, you can now share it with your family—across devices—with no additional sign-up fee...

Netflix does it. Apple music does it. Google Play Music does it. And now Google extends sharing purchases with family members beyond music.

That’s a good thing and probably can be seen as table stakes in the online media  rental and purchase marketplace. As a father, I’ve taken advantage of family sharing for several years. It has  proven a good way for  both Apple and Google to get my family members hooked on their services, so that when they leave home they set up their own accounts.

If you haven’t got family sharing yet, you should see it in the next few days.

Source: Google Play Family Library: Share what you love with the ones you love

Hey Twitter, What’s Happening?

…most [people] didn’t know or simply misunderstood what Twitter was for – many thought of Twitter primarily as a social network, a place to find and connect with friends and family members. Second, they thought if they wanted to use Twitter, they were “supposed to Tweet every day” and didn’t think they would have that much to say. We realized we had some explaining and clarifying to do!

Twitter has problems. Growth has stalled, even shrinking. People who haven’t used it aren’t sure what it is. New users find it confusing and difficult to get started. Executives are jumping ship. And the Trolls keep popping up.

In the past year, the company has tried to handle these problems in a substantive way, introducing a raft of improvements, including better integration and display of videos, less restrictive character limits on tweets, an easier way for new users to find and connect with people,  longer and easier direct messaging, and a new timeline algorithm that shows you the top tweets that you missed when you were signed off. And in the past few weeks, it has added a raft of deals to live stream MLB and NHL games.

Now, the company is ready to reintroduce itself to the world – with a new video ad campaign headed up by the tag line, “What’s Happening.” The campaign emphasizes video of recognizable events, highlighting Twitter as a place not just to talk about what is happening, but to actually see what is happening.

I use Twitter constantly as a news feed. News about what my friends think is important. News about what is happening in the world.

I can’t imagine a world without Twitter. So, as an avid user. I wish them well. And hopefully, the last line in their blog post announcing the campaign will in fact prove to be true: “This is just the beginning!”

Fingers crossed for Twitter.


Source: See Whats Happening | Twitter Blogs