Facebook is eating YouTube’s lunch when it comes to video views and sharing

Facebook has increasingly been making moves to position itself as the preferred platform for uploading videos. This morning I saw evidence that, in fact, Facebook really is eating YouTube’s lunch when it comes to viewing and sharing videos.

The Case

We’re in the middle of a federal election in Canada. My friend, Ian Capstick, uploaded a humourous video to both Youtube and Facebook on August 28. If you haven’t seen it yet, take a look at the YouTube embed.

The Evidence

Ian uploaded the video to both platforms on Friday, August 28. It’s now Monday, August 31 and here are the stats for the first three days since the video was uploaded:




  • 60 likes; 5 dislikes

Same video. Very different views and social gestures. Facebook is generating 300% more views than YouTube, 300% more likes, and 500% more comments.

Clearly, something big has shifted in the past year. Facebook’s new video platform is making it king of video just as it became the top platform for pictures a few years ago.

What you should do about it

This is just one case. And it doesn’t mean that YouTube is in trouble. But it provides clear evidence that YouTube no longer has the video field to itself.

If you are not uploading your videos to both YouTube and Facebook, you are missing a substantial part of your traffic. So, starting now, upload your videos to both YouTube and Facebook. The times are changing – and so is our sense of where we will find and share video.

A European, not global, right to be forgotten


“If the CNIL’s proposed approach were to be embraced as the standard for Internet regulation, we would find ourselves in a race to the bottom. In the end, the Internet would only be as free as the world’s least free place.

“We believe that no one country should have the authority to control what content someone in a second country can access.”

This week, Google took a stand that we all should support. It stood up against the extraterritorial application of a country’s laws to restrict freedom on the internet. The specific case is the attempt by France’s Commission Nationale de l’Informatique et des Libertés (C.N.I.L.) to require Google to delist links on all of its sites worldwide in order to comply with a right to be forgotten request it receives. Google  currently honours these requests by delisting the link on European Google sites. That makes sense. A European law is applied in Europe.

What the French court is trying to do is worrisome. Google is right to fight it.

At the same time, there is an irony in this situation. Google is taking a stand against the extraterritorial application of a country’s laws. However, when you consider the terms and services we all agree to in order to use sites like Google, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and virtually all the most popular social sites, you will probably be agreeing to terms and services established according to U.S. standards and governed by California law. In this way, we all are really agreeing to the extraterritorial application of U.S. laws and values – not just on freedom of speech, but also things like copyright and privacy protections.

I applaud Google for standing up for freedom of expression on the Internet on this case. I just hope that my U.S. friends will also be sensitive to the fact that in some ways we all are asked to “become Americans” when we use the Internet. That’s not bad, as long as it always is balanced with a recognition that those of us who live in other countries may have different values that we hold equally dear – and that these values should be respected.

It’s a balancing act that requires that we look at situations carefully and not descend into thoughtless sloganeering.

In the case of right to be forgotten, I think Google has hit the right balance. Respect Europe’s laws in Europe. Now this issue is going before the courts in France. It won’t be decided quickly. It won’t go away. We should pay thoughtful attention.


If you are interested in this subject, here are some posts that I think provide useful context:

CNIL orders Google to apply delisting on all domain names of the search engine

Google Europe Blog: Implementing a European, not global, right to be forgotten

European Court Lets Users Erase Records on Web

‘Right to be forgotten’: How Canada could adopt similar law for online privacy

Facebook questions use of ‘right to be forgotten’ ruling

Consumer group asks FTC to adopt EU’s right to be forgotten

Google accidentally reveals data on ‘right to be forgotten’ requests

Facebook’s latest news feed change is just too creepy

On Friday, Facebook announced that it is changing the algorithm that determines what it shows on your news feed to “to factor in a new signal—how much time you spend viewing a story in your News Feed.”

iStock_000045129604_SmallYou read that right. Facebook is constantly watching what is on your screen. Not just what you actively click on. But what is displayed on your screen.

Up until now, the Facebook algorithm selected content that it would display to you based on active factors like whether you had shared or commented on or favourited a post. In other words, you knew that if you did something active, Facebook would know that.

But this new announcement suggests that Facebook is always aware of what is displaying on your screen – even if you don’t do anything active to it.

It feels to me that Facebook is violating my privacy. It is doing something that we see portrayed on crime shows or hear about in urban tales of hacking. It’s watching the screen on my computer. It’s watching what I see – even if I don’t do anything active with that content.

I don’t want to be watched this way. Facebook, I do NOT give you my permission to watch what is on the screen of my computer. Please leave me this bit of privacy. Please back away from using this power. Just because you can do it, doesn’t mean you should.

Facebook provides an example of why they are making this change that raises the hairs on the back of my next. According to Facebook,

For example, you may scroll quickly through your News Feed and like a photo of your friend’s graduation, followed by sharing a funny post from your sister. You keep scrolling and happen upon a post your cousin shared detailing everything she did and saw on her recent trip. Her post even includes a photo. You spend time reading her post and the interesting discussion about the best places to eat that had broken out in the comments on this post, but you don’t feel inclined to like or comment on it yourself. Based on the fact that you didn’t scroll straight past this post and it was on the screen for more time than other posts that were in your News Feed, we infer that it was something you found interesting and we may start to surface more posts like that higher up in your News Feed in the future.”

Did you get that. Facebook acknowledges that we may choose not to make a public gesture – a like, a share, a favourite – about a piece of content we see. And you’d think that if we see something but keep our comments to ourselves that we have protected our privacy. But not in the world of Facebook. It apparently is watching every word and image that scrolls down our screens, including how long we linger over a particular item. Now that’s creepy. And that’s overly intrusive.

You might say, “If you don’t like it, don’t use Facebook.” Well the simple fact is that Facebook has been so successful in working its way onto so many cellphones and computers that not using it carries a significant social cost. To not use Facebook is equivalent to not going for a walk in your neighbourhood or not using the phone. It has become a utility that we cannot do without.

I would argue that, thanks to its success in becoming ubiquitous and essential to our social lives, it carries an increased responsibility to us. And that responsibility is to behave in a way that we feel comfortable with. That means there are some things that Facebook should not do – like watch us constantly, even when we are not actively interacting with it. Facebook may be able to do it. But that doesn’t mean it should. We all learned early that just because you can do something doesn’t mean that you should do it.

Facebook is saying that it will limit the use of this information. According to HuffPost, “A spokeswoman for Facebook told The Huffington Post that the amount of time spent looking at content would not be made available to publishers or advertisers, and that it is purely used to determine how content is surfaced on the News Feed.”

For now, Facebook is not sharing this data. But let’s remember that Facebook makes its money selling advertising. We the users are the product. And it has changed its practices whenever it felt that it would be beneficial to Facebook. So, the fact that it says it is not doing something now should not be taken as any comfort that it won’t change that policy tomorrow.

The only defence against this possibility is to stop Facebook from starting down this path.

So, how can we stop this? Well a first step is for Facebook users to voice our disapproval over this move and to call on Facebook to stop this practice. That’s what I’m doing here. And I encourage you to do it as well. On your Facebook feed. On Twitter. On Reddit. On every social network you use.

But do I think that will change Facebook’s mind? Not likely.

This may be one of those instances when we have to turn to government to protect our rights. And the right to privacy is one right that we should be vigilant to preserve. We’ve seen a heightened scrutiny of Facebook’s privacy practices in Europe. I think this latest move is something that privacy commissioners across jurisdictions should examine. In the past, the Privacy Commissioner in Canada has been willing to challenge Facebook’s practices in the past. This is a perfect opportunity for privacy commissioners everywhere to engage with Facebook.

Attack on the Spirit of Social Media

When I first started to use the Internet, it was a place for people who had some basic coding skill to share their thoughts, their experiences, their interests, with others. It was a distinctly Uncommercial place. In fact, I remember the first time I saw someone try to promote a product on the Web. He was quickly flamed by others and branded as a bad actor.

But as we look at the Web and what grew into social media today, that version of the Internet as a community coming together to freely and generously share with one another is a distant memory. (In fact, I was reminded of this the other day and wrote a post remarking on the value of community-created, freely shared content.)

So, I found my head nodding as I watched Jay Baer express his distress over recent moves by Twitter and LinkedIn that undermined the maker spirit of the early Internet and further pushed us toward a totally commercialized environment of walled gardens.

Jay is a smart guy. And I feel his pain over these developments. Especially since I’m one of those people toiling to develop an application, 76insights, that relies on the APIs of the social networks.

I worry about where we may be going. And so does Jay. But as always, he says it particularly well. So, watch his video.

If you are interested in more thoughts from a leader in the digital marketing space, subscribe to Jay’s Jay Today podcast. It’s always interesting and thought provoking.

Google+ and the lesson of Owned vs Rented Spaces

Screenshot 2014-07-28 10.42.54

The pending breakup of Google+ holds a lesson that we should keep in mind: Social networks serve the business interests of their owners first. It’s as simple as owned vs rented spaces.

The terms, conditions and even basic operations of social networks can and do change at the whim of the owners if they see business advantage in this. If you don’t own it, if you’re just a renter, don’t be surprised if you wake up one morning to find the place has been sold out from under you.

Google gave us a stunning illustration of this on Sunday night when, with a Google+ post, Bradley Horowitz signalled the demise of Google+ as we know it.

The changes at Google+ underline something that savvy social media users should remember: Use your owned spaces to post your valuable content and then use social networks to promote it. Your owned spaces are as permanent as you want them to be. Social networks are as ephemeral as the owners want them to be.

Is innovation in social media over?

Social media on blackboard

Is the period of innovation in social media, of fresh ideas and brilliant breakthroughs over? And if it is, is this something that we can change? Or do we even need to?

In a year-end post on his blog, noted tech investor Fred Wilson offered a couple observations that caught my eye. Wilson suggested, among other things, that:

1/ the social media phase of the Internet ended. this may have happened a few years ago actually but i felt it strongly this year. entrepreneurs and developers still build social applications. we still use them. but there isn’t much innovation here anymore. the big platforms are mature. their place is secure.

This reminded me of something that Shel Israel said way back in 2006, before social networks, when blogging was new, shiny and rapidly evolving. Reflecting on what he had heard at that year’s New Communications Forum, Israel wrote,

Blogging is normalizing.  It is following the usual adoption trends taught in Marketing 101. The number of marketing people watching blogs, starting them and evangelizing is going to inevitably eclipse the number of technology developers who got this all going.

Looking back, Shel Israel was spot on. In a few frenzied years, blogging had evolved rapidly from Blogger to Typepad and then into WordPress and Tumblr (with some other platforms along the way). Then two things happened. The technology folks moved on to social networks, analytics, mobile-enabled apps and all of the next new things that followed on. As this happened, bloggers – the people using the software – converged on  a few platforms. And the pace of innovation in the underlying publishing software slowed down.

Rapid change yields to predictable user experience

A decade ago, blogging revolutionized my relationship with others in my community of interest. In 2007, Facebook gave me a window on my friends and family, a means of signaling affinity and connecting with them. That same year, Twitter provided me with an instant newsfeed and connected me with the trends and topics that matter to me. And along the way, other developments provided annoyance (think LinkedIn) and temporary diversion (think Quora or foursquare.).

However, as I look back on more recent years, I realize that my use of social networks and social publishing platforms has varied little. In fact, I cannot remember the last innovative social publishing or social network innovation that truly changed the way that I publish or connect with people online. I’ve settled into a routine, using several tools, each for the thing that I find it does best.

Here is what I use every day.

Facebook, to connect with my friends and to share random thoughts of a more personal nature.

Twitter, to see the news as it happens and to find interesting topics suggested by people whose perspective I find interesting.

Google+. Yes I’m still on Google+. I regularly participate in a number of special-interest communities such as the FIR Podcast Community and the Podcasting Technology Resources community. People with a niche interest coming together around their shared interests.

LinkedIn. The network I dislike but cannot ignore. LinkedIn is one of the tabs that opens on my browser every morning. And it’s also the one with which I spend the least time and close first. Too self-promotional. Too self interested. I just can’t warm up to LinkedIn. But I can’t ignore it.

Instagram. I joined Instagram early and then stopped following it. In 2014, I returned to it. I’m still on the fence about whether it will be part of my long-term digital consumption.

Medium. Medium comes closest to being a breakthrough innovation. And that’s ironic. Because really it looks like a return to the longer form publishing that I remember from the Golden age of blogging. (So far, I’ve been a reader, not a publisher, on Medium. I’m having trouble generating good content on my blog. And I’ve been reluctant to cross-post. However, I’m considering cross posting some content on Medium simply so that I can establish some credentials there.)

WordPress. Yes I had to put WordPress in here because I still use it as the publishing platform for this blog, the Inside PR podcast (which I co-host with Gini Dietrich and Martin Waxman) and my various business blogs. I love this software. It’s intuitive and robust. May it never go away!

Feedly, my go-to newsreader app, which I use to subscribe to the digital publications and commentators whose perspective and voice I want to follow on an ongoing basis

Diigo, to annotate and save the things I find remarkable and may want to find or share at a later date (That’s how I retrieved Shel Israel’s 2006 post. I had tagged it “normalization” in delicious, a precursor to diigo.)

ITunes podcast App. You may wonder why this is on this list. But I spend my daily commute listening to podcasts. It’s a rare day that I will turn on live radio. Instead, I find myself drawn to podcasts for both information and entertainment.

Fred is right. But is that a good or a bad thing?

So there is my list of social publishing and social networks that I use regularly. And as I look at it, I realize it is essentially the same list that I could have described at the beginning of last year.

So, yes, Fred Wilson is right. We have reached a period of stability in the social networks.

Is this a good thing or a bad thing? Do you miss the innovation in platforms that characterized the early years of social media? Or are you happy that things have settled down?

Update: Yes, there is a conversation about this.

It’s just not really happening in the comments section of my blog. Instead, it’s taking place on Facebook.


Inside PR 377: Companies squeeze suppliers and Facebook’s hold on us

On the most recent episode of the Inside PR podcast, Gini DietrichMartin Waxman and I talk about two very different topics: the squeeze large clients are putting on their marketing partners and Facebook’s hold on young users.

The Big Squeeze

Gini kicks off the discussion about the growing number of large companies that are taking longer to pay their marketing partners. In the case of some companies, such as P&G and Mars, advertising agencies, marketing and PR partners will find themselves waiting up to 120 days – four months – for payment. And that can be crippling to a creative business. Gini has some thoughts about how PR agencies can avoid being caught in the slow payment trap. In the short term, it may come down to this: If you don’t want to play the big client game, extending your credit to people whose credit rating is is probably much better than yours, you may just have to say no. And if they won’t attempt to find a workable middle ground, you may just end up saying no to working for them.

Martin believes that this would be bad for creative agencies and for marketing itself. It used to be that creatives would be constantly breaking off of the larger agencies they worked for in order to form new ventures. And with a fresh creative perspective, many of them would land a large account that would enable them to build an agency in their own vision. Heck, that’s how Terry Fallis and I started Thornley Fallis. A couple of guys with a fresh perspective on the business working on folding banquet tables in borrowed space. But we landed B.C.E. (Bell Canada Enterprises), then GlaxoSmithKline, and then Molson. And from there, the business took off.

Is that still possible in this current environment? Martin asks, “How can you compete to win clients like this if the financial terms would put you out of business before you have a chance to grow?” Yes it is possible, but ever more difficult. In order to succeed, small agencies need to keep a focus on what has always been the most important factor. Creativity. If we can do something that’s truly remarkable and memorable, we still can thrive.

Facebook’s Hold on Youth

Recently, some have suggested that Facebook is past its prime with teens. A  study from Forrester Research indicates that Facebook still remains young people’s favorite social network. Martin agrees that Facebook may still be used by teens. But he suggests that we look at an intangible factor that may point to the future. Do teens still consider it cool? Or are they there because they have to be because their friends are there? If that’s the case, Gini suggests that teens will not remain reliant on Facebook. Older people who have left school, moved away from their hometown, and are in mid-career, rely on Facebook to keep them connected with the people that they knew at an earlier time. Teens, however, are surrounded by their social network. They don’t need Facebook to stay in touch with friends. They know who their friends are and they can easily use different media, including texting, to stay in touch with their friends.

I think there’s a different between these two questions, “Do people use it?” and “Do people feel cool when they use it?” The first question finds its answer in past behaviour. The second question points the way to future behaviour. And if that’s the case, don’t count on Facebook keeping its stranglehold on youth. For now, young users are still on Facebook. But where will they be next year?


I wrote this post to appear first on the Inside PR Podcast blog. I’m posting it here in case you missed it there and might be interested in it.

Facebook privacy improvements are good news for marketers

Facebook, with its billion-plus active users, is a can’t-ignore platform for marketers. But there has been a longstanding problem with Facebook. Many users view with suspicion its approach to privacy and sharing data it collects about us.

Especially for people who started on Facebook early when it was truly a place where we could connect with family and friends, the terms of our implicit deal with Facebook seemed to change in an unpredictable and one-sided way. Yes, we all understand that Facebook must be a profitable company and that means monetizing the data and action of the people who use it. However, how it was doing this was to often opaque to the user and seemingly arbitrary.

Yesterday at f8, Mark Zuckerberg announced three new measures that will give users greater control of the personal information that we share with others. Even better, these measures are being implemented in a very user-friendly and accessible way, something which has not always been the case with past Facebook privacy measures.

So, what did he announce?

login3First, Facebook now will allow people to try new apps in an anonymous mode without having to give away all of our personal information simply to test the app. In my mind, this is a huge and important move on Facebook’s part.

The reality is that, in the past most people would simply agree to any of the privacy and data sharing provisions presented to them in order to get at the shiny new object that they wanted to try out. In no way could their consent be considered informed. And if we decided that we didn’t like the app, we needed to wade through a difficult-to-use app menu in order to find and delete the app.

With the change announced yesterday by Zuckerberg, users will be able test the app before giving it access to our personal data. If we like it, we can register at a later date to share our information and achieve the customization offered as a result. Giving users the ability to test a nap before they give away personal data is a huge and long overdue move.

login1Second, when a users do decide to register for an app, we now will be given greater control over which information we share with apps.

Public information will be shared as a default. However information such as our friends list, email address, birthdate and other personal information will be subject to a conscious decision to share on the users part. Each type of information to be shared will be clearly indicated on a login screen so that users can stop and consider what we are doing. Another important move that will make a difference.

Finally, Facebook is redesigning its app control panel to make it easier to see what we have shared through each app and make adjustments after we have installed them. A simple move that makes controlling our privacy attainable for even the casual user.

You won’t see these changes immediately. Facebook will introduce them gradually over the coming weeks and months. The new app control panel will appear first, within weeks according to Facebook. The anonymous login currently is being tested by a few developers, with rollout to more developers planned in the coming months. The new login should be introduced in a few months.

Anything that builds trust in the platform is good news for marketers

So, that’s what Facebook announced yesterday. Three simple and straightforward changes that go a long way to giving us greater control over our privacy on Facebook. And as such, they help to restore a degree of confidence and trust in Facebook.

Marketers should be applauding these changes. By building our trust in the platform, Facebook makes itself a more welcoming and trustworthy platform for marketers’ messages.

Yesterday was a good day for privacy. Yesterday was a good day for Facebook. Yesterday was a good day for marketers.

Mitch Joel draws capacity crowd at Third Tuesday Ottawa

Mitch Joel kicked off the seventh season of Third Tuesday Ottawa this week. And he delivered big time for the capacity crowd.

Mitch is currently promoting his most recent book, Ctrl Alt Delete. And if you haven’t seen him speaking about this, you owe it to yourself to see him. You won’t regret it. And if you haven’t read the book yet, click over to your favorite eBook store and buy it right now. Yes, right now. Then come back and read the rest of this post.

Mitch is a great speaker. And like other great speakers, he tailors his remarks to the interest of the audience. And in the case of the social-savvy Third Tuesday crowd, he touched on several sweet spots. His presentation was chock full of quotable quotes. I’ve grabbed a few from the Twitter stream.









Thank you to Third Tuesday’s sponsors

As we kick off this seventh year of Third Tuesdays, I want thank Rogers Communications and Cision Canada. Your generous support makes it possible for us to continue to bring great speakers to the Third Tuesday community. We couldnt’ do it without you.

Are Google Alerts on the Endangered List?

Google Alerts 130324I use Google Alerts to track references to my company and industry. Over time, I’ve noticed that the results have been sporadic and unreliable. I thought it was a problem with the search terms I’d set up. It turns out the problem wasn’t at my end. It’s at Google’s end. I found a Danny Sullivan post from mid-February noting that “It was awesome; but for several weeks, it’s become nearly useless. Google assured Sullivan that they were fixing the problem with alerts. But they didn’t. I’ve seen no change with Google Alerts. It’s continued to miss finding stuff I know it should be locating, Sullivan posted last week. Shortly after that, Mashable noted the same problem and investigated. Their conclusion: “Something definitely seems to be broken with the current Google Alerts system.”

Oh Oh. Is Google lavishing the same indifference on Google Alerts that presaged the shutdown of Reader?