Major media outlets launch sponsored content with their Facebook Instant Articles and Jason Keath takes us through the highlights of Social Fresh’s Future of Social research report. Gini Dietrich,Martin Waxman and Joseph Thornley tackle these topics and more in this week’s Inside PR podcast.
Sponsored Content on Facebook Instant Articles
Neiman Labs reports that two heavyweight traditional news outlets, the Washington Post and The Atlantic, have begun running sponsored content in their Facebook Instant Articles. Happily, the illustration in the Nieman Labs story suggests that the content will be clearly labelled as “Sponsor Content.” I tried to verify that by reviewing my own newsfeed. However, I couldn’t find a single sponsored article from either the Washington Post or The Atlantic. That makes me think that either this sponsored content is so far very rare or Facebook is geotargeting the ads and my Canadian IP address puts me outside of the target area for them.
Jason Keath, Founder of Social Fresh
Jason Keath is the CEO of Social Fresh, which recently released The Future of Social, a report based on research involving over 500 social media managers and executives. Gini tracked him down and interviewed him about the report and the lessons we can take from it. Among the highlights:
Companies that invest in social media tools achieve a greater return than those who don’t.
95% of respondents using social media software report a positive ROI on their social media activities vs. 63% who are not investing in tools.
Social media is best at connecting with existing audiences, customers, strongest leads, fans and stakeholders. Building awareness through social media can be an expensive proposition.
To increase leads and sales, focus more time on fewer pieces of content. For example, Social Fresh invests heavily both in their research and the conference. This enables them to stand out by being deeper and offering more unique insights.
Take your audience up the commitment curve. Ask little of them at the beginning. Reading a post. Downloading a paper. Registering. Then work them up the curve to larger commitments.
Instagram is on the verge of leapfrogging LinkedIn and Twitter to become the second largest ad platform.
Marketers report satisfaction with the results they are achieving with video content and they plan to increase their commitment to it in the coming year.
Is podcasting on the verge of tipping from a creator-driven medium to an advertiser-driven channel? UNU predicts the trends. Microsoft gets LinkedIn. And crises bring out the best in both social and mainstream media. Gini Dietrich,Martin Waxman and Joseph Thornley tackle these topics and more in this week’s Inside PR podcast.
Midroll acquires Stitcher
A big deal by podcasting standards. Podcast advertising broker Midroll has acquired Stitcher. I think that independent podcasters have reason to worry that, if successful, Midroll/Stitcher will do to podcasting what Facebook did to the open Web. Martin and Gini are still making up their minds about this. Whatever your view, if you care about podcasting, this is an #IPRMustKnow.
The news that Microsoft is acquiring LinkedIn broke just before we recorded this episode. So here you get our first impressions of the potential benefits and downsides of Microsoft’s integration of LinkedIn with its Office suite.
Crisis brings out the best in us
Finally, in the wake of the Orlando shootings, we reflect on the current state of crisis communications, how news flows through social media and the important role of mainstream media to establish context, discern authoritative, credible witness testimony and curate the reports from social media.
It’s been a month since Facebook introduced Chatbots at F8. Martin reports on his experience with the CNN chatbot. Interesting. For sure. Useful. Not as good as it could be. But Facebook is doing its best to keep you inside its ecosystem of apps. Digiday reported this assessment of CNN’s experience with its Facebook Messenger Chatbot.
Snapchat changes the Discover feature to help publishers attract attention
It was telegraphed by Snapchat. Previewed by publishers. And now it’s here for all of us. The Snapchat Discover feature has been overhauled to a more magazine-like appearance. The hope is that the replacement of the small, circular icons with larger tiles including both text and images will give publishers a better platform to attract attention from Snapchat users.
You know you’re in trouble when the PR person becomes the story
Good PR people advise, prepare and support. But we know that media want to hear the words from the mouth of the principal. I’m sure every PR adviser has a story of having watched even the most well-prepared client get tripped up and make a mistake in an interview. But as PR pros, we’ve held out tongue and dealt with it after the fact. Few of us would dream of stepping in front of the camera or intervening to order a live recording stopped. After all, once the recording starts, isn’t it all fair game? Well, this week we have an example of what happens when a PR person loses sight of the fact that a recording of an interview is the media outlet’s to with as they please. The headline of the article from KWTX news tells you all you need to know: “Question leads to awkward interruption during Starr interview.”
Are you using the PESO – paid, earned, shared, owned – model of PR? Trying to understand why Google is introducing another new chat app? Trying to figure our how to use Apple’s new Podcasts Connect portal. Or just trying to protect your PR company from defamation litigation arising from online activity?
In this week’s #IPRMustKnow segment, we talk about Google’s announcement of Allo and Duo. Allo is an intelligent chat app. Duo is a new one to one video calling app. They will be added to Google’s existing Messenger and Hangouts app, giving Google a total of four messenger apps in the market. (Did we say Google+? Not really, as it looks like G+ is continuing its long fadeaway.) We talk about what Google is up to. Why new apps when it has two reasonably successful apps already in the market? The answer seems to lie in the integration of Google’s intelligent assistant. But with all the churn in apps, has it lost the trust of people? Has it lost the sheen of the new that enabled newer entrants like Instagram and Snapchat to catch on. Can a middle-aged Google compete with the new and lean startups that have come up? Or will its huge database of knowledge about us give it an unassailable advantage in the era of the intelligent assistant.?
Protecting your company against defamation litigation
If you are an online publisher, you may find yourself on the wrong side of a defamation lawsuit. Gini points us to an article in PR Week by Michael Lasky of law firm Davis & Gilbert. Practical advice for the firm with a problem.
Understanding Apple’s Podcasts Connect Portal
If you’re a professional communicator, the odds are that you are creating a podcast or are considering starting a podcast. iTunes is the channel through which most people receive their podcasts. And it also has a reputation among podcasters to be demanding and unforgiving in setting up and maintaining podcasts. Recently, Apple has introduced Podcasts Connect, a new portal through which podcasters register and list their podcasts through iTunes. And as an illustration of nothing is ever as straightforward as it should be or may appear to be, reports have bounced around social media about podcasters messing up their podcast listing on iTunes as a result of changes they have made via Podcasts Connect. Happily, we have YouTube. And Libsyn, one of the leading podcast hosting services (ProPR.ca is hosted on Libsyn) has posted an “Explaining Podcasts Connect” explainer video. Libsyn’s Krystal O’Connor walks through the functions of Podcasts Connect and shows how to use each. A great resource for newbie or experienced podcasters alike.
The PESO – Paid, Earned, Shared, Owned – Model of PR
Social licence is a frequently-used, but little-understood term. It is referenced often in the debate around energy projects, especially in Canada.
So, if you’ve heard the term and wondered where it came from (coined in 1997 by mining executive Jim Cooney) and why people on opposite sides seem to be attaching a meaning to it that supports their own perspective, you’ll want to read “How social licence came to dominate the pipeline debate in Canada,” by The Canadian Press. It includes interviews with Jim Cooney, as well as advocates on both sides of the proponent/citizen divide.
Early data on the performance of Facebook Instant articles. Periscope makes videos permanent. Donald Trump does something that crosses the ethical line for PR pros. And we look at the deeper issues underpinning the discussion about Facebook’s Trending Topics.
Publishers are reporting mixed results with Facebook Instant Articles, according to Digiday. They are driving traffic, but it is less engaged. Nevertheless, revenue is flowing to publishers. So, Instant Articles as a publishing platform isn’t going away anytime soon.
Periscope is about to make videos permanent with save settings in its app. This is big news. Facebook Live Videos gained a huge advantage over Periscope by making it easy for people to save their videos. By making it easy for users to save their videos beyond the current 24 hour expiry date, Periscope will even up the playing field.
In our main discussion, we turn our attention to lack of transparency in how Facebook’s Trending Topics are selected. This is a far reaching and important issue. It’s about Facebook’s emergence as a media outlet. It’s about dominance of one player. It’s about the level of transparency necessary so that we can assess bias. And it’s about the additional obligation to transparency and scrutiny that Facebook should now be subject to.
During our discussion, we cite several sources that you should read in order to have the facts to make up your own mind about what is at stake:
We’re belatedly celebrating the tenth anniversary of the Inside PR podcast. Terry Fallis and David Jones posted the first episode of Inside PR on April 3, 2006. Back then the tag line was “Inside PR: Going deep on the state and future of public relations.” After recording 200 episodes, Terry and David decided that they’d said all that they wanted to say. But they didn’t retire the podcast. Instead they passed it along to Martin Waxman, who had been co-hosting with Terry and David. Martin, in turn, brought Gini Dietrich and Joseph Thornley in as new co-hosts. And thanks to Terry and David’s benevolence, the Inside PR podcast now has been running continuously for over ten years. That’s a record of longevity that we’re proud of. And we’re not thinking of stopping anytime soon.
Also this week, we give a shout out to original co-host Terry Fallis, who has just been shortlisted for the Leacock Medal for his novel, Poles Apart. Terry has won the Leacock award twice before, for his first novel, The Best Laid Plans, and for his fourth novel, No Relation. The award winner will be announced on June 11. So check your Twitter feed on the evening of June 11 and send Terry your best wishes.
If your practice touches on public participation or digital engagement, the IAP2 North American Conference in Montreal in September may be for you. Members of the IAP2 – the International Association of Public Participation – from the United States and Canada will gather in Montreal for three days of speakers and panels on public participation best practices and case studies. I attended last year’s conference in Portland and found it to be a unique learning opportunity. And this year, I’ll be not only learning, but also sharing some of what I know in a session titled, “Reaching the People at the Back of the Room: Using Online Engagement for More Inclusive Public Participation.”
Also this week, we talk about the Counselors Academy Conference that Martin attended in Puerto Rico. Martin’s big takeaway from the conference was the continuing trend for PR agencies to integrate design, video, paid media and other disciplines as the traditional silos of creative, advertising, PR and content converge.
While at the Counselors Academy Conference, Martin interviewed one of the keynote speakers, Duncan Wardle, Vice President of Creative Inc., Disney Parks and Resorts’ creative think tank. He offers some great advice for priming creativity in our own organizations.
Finally, Martin points out the recent article on Wired, Facebook has seized the media, and that’s bad news for everyone but Facebook. News is important to Facebook. But it’s not what Facebook cares about. Instead, the platform is focusing on packaging content as an experience that will draw us and keep us. The content doesn’t matter to Facebook as much as the packaging and whether it holds attention.
It may be big, but Facebook is like a shark. It just keeps moving. Recently, Facebook opened itself to sponsored content. We talk about recent changes at Facebook, including sponsored content. We talk about the need for adequate disclosure of sponsored content to enable people to recognize it as such.
We also discuss Facebook Messenger’s second email inbox. It seemed to have sent a lot of people into a tizzy. Joe, on the other hand, is quite happy to have Facebook Messenger filter out as many messages as possible.
Facebook uses its huge data store to fine tune its news and advertising algorithms. But kudos to the company for this innovation: Facebook introduced auto captioning to make itself more accessible to people with site impairment. Good on Facebook!
And we couldn’t talk about Facebook without talking about Facebook Live Videos. They are available to all of us and we’ve been using it. Video for the rest of us. Video that persists (unlike Periscope which expires.) Video that we can schedule with an event. Or, as we have done, video available only to members of a group (join the Inside PR Facebook group to see the video Joe made of his end of the recording of this podcast.)
We’d love to know what you think.
Is Facebook going to become the one social network to rule them all?
Junk filters? Nuisance or must-have.
Have you used Facebook Live Videos yet? How was your experience? Do you have tips for others who are just beginning to use them?
If you’ve missed the biggest change of the past couple years, it may be because you’re still interacting with the Web and social media on a desktop or notebook device. And if you are, you’re in the minority. Yep, that’s right folks. In December 2013, 53% of the time spent on digital media platforms was on mobile, 47% on desktop. Flash forward two years later to December 2015 and 65%, two thirds, of the time we spend on digital media platforms is now time that we spend on our mobile devices. Desktops have been reduced to one third of the time.
Comscore’s data also provides some interesting insight into the use of social media and the differences between people under 35 (think Snapchat) and those over 35 (think Facebook.) But regardless of which cohort you are looking at, Mark Zuckerberg can feel good, as Facebook and Instagram rank among the top three most-used social apps across all ages.
The other side of the move to mobile is the ongoing rise of video. And this data was collected before Facebook launched Live Video.
If you’re running a communications business, the Comscore report is a must-read. In fact, you may find that it provides you with the markers around which you’ll be building your business plan for the next year. You could do a lot worse than to place your business in the path of the trends charted out by Comscore. After all, there’s nothing better than be where the future is when it arrives.
And if you’re interested, you can listen to Gini Dietrich, Martin Waxman, and I discuss the report on this week’s Inside PR podcast.