Social Media Top 5: Cancer Comms, A Life Disrupted, & Blab to Bomb(?)

For Immediate Release Podcast: Cancer, Communications and Other Fun Stuff

FIR #29: Communications and Cancer

For years, I have been a fan of the For Immediate Release podcast, hosted by Shel Holtz and (for most of its run) Neville Hobson. I was lucky enough to appear on the show now and again, and even to co-host it, and always considered the FIR community to be one of the richest social media communities to which I have belonged.

In the program’s current incarnation, I have been honored that Shel has asked me to be a panelist on a regular, rotating basis. This week, I joined friends Mark Story and Jennifer Stauss. Tying us together for this episode was our varying involvement with cancer and communications. Mark is social media lead at the National Cancer Institute (, and Jennifer led the initiatives WTF (Where’s the Funding for) Lung Cancer, and SMAC (Sock Monkeys Against Cancer).

Out of my depth, I at least can claim to be a participant in cancer fundraisers, as I ride annually in the Pan-Mass Challenge (to which you can donate at – as always, thank you!).

Here’s me riding the PMC  last summer with Nomo, Jennifer’s lead  SMAC sock monkey:


Anyway, please have a listen to the podcast, as we discuss how organizations can and do coordinate efforts for awareness, research and treatment; we also talked about the AP Style Guide’s “lowercasing” of internet and web (AP Style Guide, guardian against Oxford Comma overuse, can do no wrong!), and the release of Dan Lyons’ book about his experience working at Hubspot, among other things.

Speaking of That Book…

I haven’t read Disrupted yet, though it is in my Kindle queue. While I have several very good friends at Hubspot, I found Lyons’ hiring there to be a potentially odd fit- a young, excitable culture embracing a middle aged, sharply-cynical writer best known as the voice of Fake Steve Jobs? I recall one incident that confirmed my suspicions, which Dan also recalled in a LinkedIn post about age discrimination in the tech industry.

I like Dan’s writing- that’s why I’m reading it, and no amount of snippy, biased reviews or happy-face counter-marketing can stop me from turning the virtual pages.

That said, good luck to both “sides” in all endeavors.

Image Credit: Norbert Gálfi on Flickr

Image Credit: Norbert Gálfi on Flickr

Blab to Bomb?

I really like Blab as a livestreaming service. So does the author of this blog post, Nathan Hague. Blab is a great tool for conducting online panels and conversations, and in the eyes of many who have tried it they found it easier to use and more reliable than, say, Google Hangouts. What Hague tries to point out is that these free tools have costs, and as they scale in minutes and users, those costs can pile up. I didn’t check his math, but even if he is wrong- and I’m not sure about some of the multiplication in there- he is pointing out the (potential) downside of startups that rely on venture funding to get them through growth, but without any whiff of a revenue model. We’ve been through it over and over since the first Internet bubble. Is there a plan for these companies or is it more convenient to forget history and hope for a few winners before the new Web (sorry, web) economy crashes like the old?

Star Wars or Star Trek? Get it Straight or Stay Out of It

I love futuristic tech. I refuse to make fun of Virtual Reality apps, even though being grumpy out it should be right up my alley; it just feels like a technology whose time, to some extent, has come to shine for practical and fun use on a larger scale than had been possible.

However- when promoting such technology, it is wise to get your geek lingo straight; for example, this video Futurism posted on Facebook touts a really cool piece of technology, saying the app “allows you to virtually teleport anywhere in the world –Star Wars style.”

My first instinct was to check the comments to see how quickly the “Star TREK not Star Wars” comments came rushing in, and I was not disappointed.

#nerdfail – although, perhaps the split infinitive à la “To go boldly where no man has gone before’  was a defiant, knowing wink. (nah)

Screen Shot 2016-04-05 at 8.51.03 PM

Forbes- On Brand, as Usual

It’s easy to gripe about Forbes – like the Harvard Business Review blog – diluting its formidable brand by letting lots of people write for the Forbes Contributor Network. However, there are many excellent writers there as well (including, naturally, some clients), so the looser editorial standards mean less the end of journalism and more that readers are responsible for sifting the gold from the sand.

Still, I was amused and somewhat horrified to find that there is a columnist on Forbes- Forbes!- who dedicates server space to play-by-play of events like Wrestlemania 32.

WWE is big business, but this sort of posting seems a little off-brand, even for this new era. Or am I just oversensitive?

At least he did the job, delivering a link to the content I was looking for – Shane McMahon’s insane 20-foot jump from the top of the cage during the Hell in a Cell match. Though he eventually lost to The Undertaker, who knew he had it in him?




Social Media Top 5: Retiring TweetDeck, Anchor Audio & Curating Gods

I’m a bit late with my weekly writing, as I spent extra time this weekend cursing university creative writing departments for unleashing a generation of narcissistic bores on the movie-loving online public (if my son compared a film like “Batman v Superman” to “Glengarry Glen Ross” in an essay he would have no privileges for a month). Back to my own nonsense:

Image credit: Shawn Campbell on Flickr

Image credit: Shawn Campbell on Flickr

Twitter retiring TweetDeck for Windows

Since I started working at Stone Temple Consulting in 2014, I have been back using PCs. One thing i have relied on heavily for social media use is Tweetdeck, the Twitter management console Twitter has owned for a few years now. Specifically, it has been a convenient way to keep my personal/professional use of twitter separate from any client-related account management- where I would use a paid tool, and log in to Twitter directly on the Web to double-check posts and analytics. That last part is germane to how my heart sank a little on hearing the news that Twitter is retiring Tweetdeck as a separate application and forcing you to log in to Tweetdeck via the web. From their announcement:

You’ll no longer need to log in to TweetDeck separately. Now, when you move from TweetDeck to Twitter websites, or from these websites to TweetDeck, you’ll be automatically logged in — making it even easier to move between the tools you use daily.

This means if I log in to Tweetdeck, that is how I log in to Twitter itself, removing a layer of separation from personal accounts and client accounts, a potentially dangerous predicament. Prediction: more people who manage Twitter for employers and brands will be prone to Tweeting to the wrong accounts. At least our “Social Media Screwups” decks will have fresh material.

Anchor- Utterli fascinating?

I haven’t heard a ton of buzz about this – thank the heavens – but was intrigued to see bits of news cross my feeds about a new app called Anchor.

According to the web site, Anchor:

…makes it easy to broadcast short audio clips to a global audience in seconds. Your listeners can talk back, sparking instant group conversations that were never before possible.

“Never before possible” is nothing more than marketing fluff, and probably less than that (read: bold untruth), as anyone who used the deceased app Utterli can tell you. However, the TechCrunch article has interesting quotes from public radio station WNYC’s social media director about how they might use it to involve listeners; this brings to mind the factor of timing that Utterli did not have in its favor, as far as having markets outside of the “let’s engage!” kum-bay-yah social media crowd is concerned.

I’m interested- or will be – Anchor is iOS only at this writing, so I will frown vigorously at anyone who declares it the Next Big Thing before it’s available to all major OS’s.

Twitter Stickers?

Speaking of not-the-next-big-thing: sure, why not. I won’t use Twitter stickers, but there’s no reason to scorn experimentation (though I dare anyone to call it the “next big thing.” I dare ya).

Image Credit: Quesh on Flickr

Image Credit: Quesh on Flickr

End of Websites?

NONSENSE…BUT- this article does at least bring up, convincingly, the idea that not everybody needs a web site. Does an athlete need one? Maybe not. However, one good example does not make a trend, so this article is simply another example of someone reaching too far to make a point that doesn’t need to be made. Most companies- and a lot of people- will always want to come back to their own “owned” (to the extent you own something for which you pay hosting fees, pay designers and coders, and borrow or buy software) platforms – their web sites. As slick and useful and social as many platforms get, the “end of websites as we know them” is not upon us.

This is Simple: Curation is Necessary, and the Curators Will be Seen as Gods. 

My colleague Mark Traphagen hipped me to this article on how Spotify’s wonderful new(ish) “Discover Weekly” feature is more than a discover tool; it is, in my words, a focused discovery tool. We don’t need access to new content, we need ways to prioritize what we find, and what deserves our attention. Access to the world means we are not force-fed a narrow slice of popular culture, but now it means we do need tools (and people) to tell us which part of the “long tail” to ride. Discover Weekly give guidance by analyzing what you listen to, and pulling additional music based on the playlists of others who listen to the same music (I am oversimplifying this, for sure). Then, it delivers you a concise weekly playlist, instead of a word of music from which you could never pick a starting point. You still have the means to dive down any rabbit holes should you want to, but the curators are here to tell us what to do, and we should welcome the help. I do.

Social Media Top 5: What Podcasts? More Disclosure & Wikipedia Fun, & Instagram Feed Change


Image Credit: Hey Paul Studios on Flickr

Image Credit: Hey Paul Studios on Flickr

Podcasts? What Podcasts?

NPR employees have been instructed not to promote its own podcasts on the air? What? It appears there is a friction between NPR’s longtime brilliance at making its content available via downloadable or streaming media (Podcasts!) and the desire by local stations for listeners to stick with good ol’ terrestrial radio.

Why is an over-the-air medium call “terrestrial” anyway?

While I do not know, this appears to be driven by public radio station managers worried that listeners consuming podcasts rather than local station will lower ratings (to the extent public radio has ratings, a complex matter in itself) and fewer listener contributions. Is that true? The fear seems logical if not proven. However, a solution involving the network denying the existence of its own digital savior (hey, give me some rope, it’s Palm Sunday weekend as I write this) seems counterintuitive. Surely there is away to promote and distribute podcasts in a way that helps member stations? It has been way too long since I have been in public radio, so I’ll leave that answer to the experts.

Disclosure Follies- Here Come the Regulators

We have seen the FTC start to enforce online content disclosure guidelines over the last couple of years. In that time, it has become clear that brands will be held responsible if “influencers” fail to disclose sponsorships when posting content about products. This latest case involving Lord & Taylor raises another question that several folks I know raised this past week: what about the responsibility of publishers?

In this case, L&T failed to disclose it paid for a placement in a fashion magazine as well as failing to disclose considerations to online influencers; this dovetails with the topic of “native advertising” (a fancy new-ish buzzword for advertorial” that is netting folks some plum speaking engagements); will publishers be held to account for failure to inform the audience who is paying for what?

Disclosure is not hard- and it doesn’t (necessarily) cheapen content; failure to disclose, when discovered, could and should do more damage. I hope we’ll see more cases, as it will make brands – and hopefully publishers and “influencers” think more about how they approach these situations.


Instagram Hops on the Algorithmic Feed Train

Cue the “You’re ruining my feed” whiners: in a tradition reaching back to the earliest days of Facebook, millions of users are already complaining about Instagram “messin’ with mah feed” due to its announcement it will institute a smart algorithm to deliver the best posts rather than a straight chronological feed. This, as with past whines about Facebook and Twitter, shall pass, so enjoy it while the whining is fresh

Instagram is switching its feed from chronological to best posts first

I actually like curated feeds. It worked for Facebook, it will work for Twitter (if I were ever to go to the main Twitter feed), and it will definitely work here..

Wikipedia Editing Fun

Over the years, whether it be in PR, social media, or SEO, it has been common to field requests for advice in dealing with Wikipedia. The advice, boiled down, is: you can’t edit or create your won Wikipedia page, but you can work with editors to ensure worthy changes and corrections, as long as you don’t think of it as a marketing tool but as an information resource. There are groups dedicated to helping marketers work properly with Wikipedia (I’m a mostly-lurking member of a very good one).

So, what to make of this episode of a problematic page on Wikpiedia? An PR representative appeared to make a proper, if possibly clumsily executed (hard for me to judge), plea for changes to a client’s page. Somehow, this ended up in a lawsuit by the page’s subject against its own agency for causing more negative edits. It’s truly unclear what happened, though one guess is the client was not satisfied with the changes, if any, that were made, or perhaps the speed which they progressed (or failed to). If an agency is held liable for elements it can hardly control, that would seem silly.

Wikipedia is governed by a convoluted (to outsiders) process, and does not necessarily move at the speed or in the direction we want. That’s by design. Those who refuse to function within the system won’t function without it either.

Medium Collections?

Has Medium changed again? Or has it just made itself easier to navigate by interest? It seems the latter may be the case, depending in ho you read into the latest announcement about Medium Collections. It seems to make sense to me.

What hasn’t changed about Medium? The most compelling posts are those by Medium executives about what Medium is…this week.

Social Media Top 5: Instant Winners, Loser Apps, & Stopping Online Harassment

Image Credit: Andrew Huff on Flickr

Image Credit: Andrew Huff on Flickr

Facebook Instant Articles Coming to More Publishers Soon. And…?

On April 12, Facebook says, it will open up its Instant Articles platform to all publishers. I haven’t taken much advantage of this platform from the initial group of large publishers with current access, but it is fair to say it has worked well enough for broader use.

The broadening of Instant Articles does bring with it several questions.

  • Will brands be able to take advantage? I sensed some initial excitement that “everyone” will get to play with this new toy (or at least, to some overenthusiastic bloggers, brands), but it seems (almost) clear that Instant Articles will only be available to publishers: just a whole bunch more of them. So is this a revolution in content marketing? Not in the sense of marketing original content from brands, at least not yet.
  • Is it worth it to put this much effort into a platform you don’t own? If you do have access, how much energy do you put into it? What do you get from it? It may be slick and there may be millions of potential readers, but the April 12 land rush means a lot more competition for attention (I will NOT call it “content shock”), and publishers need to weigh the effort needed versus the return, either in site traffic, advertising, or other important metrics.
  • Has Facebook won the internet if this catches on? If I like to read articles there, I am won over. That has not happened yet.
  • Will it be hard to do? Sites running WordPress already have a plugin to make sure posts are compatible as Instant Articles, so for some folks probably not. Also, a WordPress plugin implies a wider group of qualified users than professional publishers, but that remains to be seen.

As with everything, I’m not getting too excited but will be interesting to see how it changes my media experience.

Why we keep doing this

Writer John Biggs nails down why we write even if most of our stuff never gets read (and he said it without using the term “content shock”). What jumped out for me:

You learn that most of what appears online goes unread. Nobody cares. Nobody will read you. The only way to make them care is to keep doing it, day after day. Write 1,000 words a day. Don’t stop. This holds true in everything. Can you write more words per day? You can, but start at 1,000. Once you do that, day after day, people will notice. Then people will read.

Biggs has an audience; I don’t. But writers will write, and we only get better (or at least fail to atrophy) by continuing to do it.

It’s Not Dead- It’s Pivoting!

Image credit: on Flickr

Image credit: on Flickr

Remember how Meerkat was the Next Big Thing at SXSW a few years ago? Live streaming video is still hanging on, but once Twitter bought rival Periscope it was clear, with the presumed integration with the established social platform, which competitor would win out. So, Meerkat is dead…? Oh wait it’s “pivoting” to become a “live video social network.” Stay tuned, though more than you have been I guess.

Peeple just a Glorified Vanity App Now?

Remember Peeple, the “Yelp for Peeple” that got hooted into hiding a few months ago? Well, now its back. Read this article about the app and decide for yourself if it is “awful,” but it appears that a bad idea gutted of its most abhorrent features is a bad idea that doesn’t do anything. At least it appears to be less of a mean-girls bully factory (did I say that out loud?).

SXSW Online Harassment Summit

I sometimes throw away a small item at the back of these posts, but not this time. I also tend to ignore SXSW if I’m not involved directly, but again, not this time. SXSW’s first Online Harassment Summit had what I understand to be a pretty difficult birth (and with the involvement of several friends who are better people than I am), but gave way to content that everyone should pay attention to. I am not all the way through, but encourage folks to have a look, as online harassment is a real problem, and maybe if you see a lightweight wiseacre like me give it a little light, you will too.



Social Media Top 5: Reaction-ary, DIY PR Advice From Hell, Making Better Conferences

Image credit: wackystuff on Flickr

Image credit: wackystuff on Flickr

One Question about Facebook Reactions:
Facebook officially released the “reactions” emoji, so people can express a range of emotions outside of the traditional “like” button when not bothering to actually comment on a friend’s post.  I do have one question about how this might change the way we use Facebook: will fewer people like posts because of the perceived extra work involved? I firmly believe there is a value to the drive-by like, and the perception that it will take a little extra effort may mean people don’t bother. Would love to see numbers on this in a few months.

Never underestimate the laziness of the average person just trying to get through their day.

Image credit: Alexander on Flickr

Image credit: Alexander on Flickr

More Terrible DIY PR Advice

I’m not solely a PR practitioner anymore, but articles advising entrepreneurs, such as this recent post, how they don’t need to hire PR counsel to get publicity have always galled me, from Jason Calacanis’ missive on promoting your own business from nearly a decade ago, to this latest article. The advice really being espoused? “Don’t worry about doing your actual job; don’t worry about hiring a professional (internal, agency, consultant, or any of the above) to do your promotion, you can do it yourself with no training, in your abundant free time. It was silly when serial entrepreneur and pundit Jason Calacanis wrote such advise almost a decade ago (which I dubbed “How to be Jason Calacanis”); it is still silly now.

The fundamental problem with this advice is not that there aren’t people who can and should do it themselves (or, for that matter, those for whom doing contracted PR work would be an absolute nightmare and not worth the retainer), but the assumption that a typical entrepreneur has the time, let alone the skills, to do their own PR successfully. To borrow a word from the late Justice Antonin Scalia: applesauce.

Improving Conferences

I attended Pubcon in Fort Lauderdale this past week (courtesy of my employer, Stone Temple Consulting), which put me in a long overdue “thinking about what I like or otherwise about conferences” mood. While any conference has ways in which it can improve, I generally enjoyed Pubcon and knew enough to make as much of my time there as possible. I will only leave one specific criticism, which is not aimed at the organizers but at every hotel or convention center that ever hosts a conference, especially in this age of social media:

I managed to take a few speaker photos using a camera with a very god lens (see below) despite the horrendous lighting, but I can only imagine that typical smartphone users were left with terrible quality – a little better speaker-focused lighting in hotel conference rooms would greatly improve the quality of organic social sharing at events.

Kyle Olson (@BecauseSEO) on advanced linkbuilding - Content placement -  #PubconSFIMA #twitter

After I came home, however, my colleague Mark Traphagen, in advance of his speaking at another upcoming conference, linked to this article about improving digital marketing conferences, but in his comment added: “Have an editorial team to work with speakers on their presentations.

10 Ways Digital Marketing Conferences Can Dramatically Improve Their Events in 2016

The best point I took away was in the area of speaker preparation. Conference speakers have their spots for good reasons (and as often as not they justify those reasons); but there needs to be more  balance between polished speakers who give empty but (maybe) entertaining talks (usually keynotes, or as I call them, a good time to get work done), and speakers with more practical takeaways who struggle with presentation style.

I agree that conferences can take a greater role in guiding speakers through their presentations. No, it’s not about editing the content of speaker presentations (god forbid someone monkey with your precious fireproof tips for SnapChat monetization), but about making sure people who pay to go to conferences are getting value. From every session. It’s not about flash, it’s about value.

TedX Cambridge is a great model- though it is difficult to expect the level of attention to detail the organizers give their speakers, a centrally-controlled speaker preparation program would greatly improve most conferences.

As for the Sales Lion article Mark linked to- I don’t agree with all of it, but it’s worth a read.

MacBook Selfie Sticks

Please, God, no. Regular Selfie sticks are bad enough. On the other hand, I see an increased opportunity for entertaining self-injury.


My Only Comment for Critics of The Met’s New Logo:

Another new logo, another righteous mob. I can’t bring myself to articulate a helpful response:


Social Media Top 5: Just Take No, Multi-Account Instagram, & Vertical Video is Here to Stay

Image credit: bixentro on Flickr

Image credit: bixentro on Flickr

Two “User Experience” Pet Peeves

After a week off of writing, I’ll start with two less timely thoughts:

First – why stop at annoying customers, visitors or users once when you can get them multiple times before they leave forever?

I have been seeing more “No thanks I want decline this amazing offer and keep on being a loser” opt-out text on pop-up ads on the Web. Marketers need to trust consumers to say “no” and work harder on the people who show interest. Why alienate people who are itching for a reason to hate you more?

My other pet-peeve is not as new: the “fun content” on the unsubscribe page.

“Oh, you  don’t really want to leave us, do you?”

“Yes, yes I did want to stop getting your content. That did not mean I hate your product, but now that you have gone out of your way to annoy me I might reconsider that.”


“Ok, I’ll stay on because you made me chuckle. But I still resent getting interrupted by your emails.”

I am sure there are metrics any company can twist that say these things are successful, but how successful and useful is that subscriber you suckered or shamed into staying aboard; how much is cheapening the user experience worth to you? track the users that react to these desperate pleas and then come back and tell me it’s an awesome idea.

It’s About time, Instagram
I heard about it before taking a week off from the blog, but waited until not to post about it, in the spirit of not being in a hurry about something important.

Instagram now allows support for multiple accounts. This feature is a must-have for anyone who operates in social media professionally and needs to access those all-important brand Instagram accounts you love to browse so much, in addition to one’s own collection of duck-face selfies and cat photos.

This is a vital feature for any platform, and I’m a bit shocked – without knowing any of the development obstacles involved – that it took years for Instagram to offer it. No platform – including Twitter and Facebook- had it right away, as I recall the struggles to manage multiple logins from early social media days, but this should no longer be an afterthought.

King of the jungle

A photo posted by Doug Haslam (@doughaslam) on



Snapchat (Vertical Video is ok now)

Snapchat Gains Momentum: New Research

Snapchat has been, for some time now, the party crasher of social media marketing. It is complicated in that it appears designed to share messages only temporarily, and remains immature in terms of the ability to measure results of marketing (or any efforts). However, its popularity is undeniable (much as with some other new platforms before it), as is the fact that many brands, particularly media entities, have already populated Snapchat channels. The above story is a result of some of the breathless excitement.

I am still in the “it remains to be seen if it is effect for general marketing” camp, but there is one other effect that Snapchat in particular has brought on to mainstream social media consumption: the acceptance of vertical video.

For a few years, it has been fun to disapprove of vertical video (holding one’s phone vertically to take video rather than in landscape mode, and I have been one of those people. Vertical video is generally rendered unwatchable on main computer screens, meaning if you share it widely it looks horrible. The best result of this is the below, of course:

With Snapchat adding to the mobile video craze, vertical video is making more and more sense. I have come around to that, and think that the next move is up to PC-based apps to format vertical video to be more watchable on the horizontal screens. The apps are better at vertical now, not the other way around. Would you agree?

Adapt or die

Random App-lause: Timehop

I’m a big fan of Timehop, as you can get a quick daily fix of what was going on this day in past years simply by your posts in social media. While I would understand an unwillingness for New Englanders to relive last year’s harsh February, I particularly enjoy some of the one-off Tweets and Facebook updates now that they have lost their original context, and get some fun out of re-posting them to see if I get a reaction. A typical example:



Off to make more odd memories…

Social Media Top 5: Defining “Long-Form,” #RIPTwitter, & Logo Design Perils

This post is 948 words long, which should take you approximately three minutes to read.

image Credit: Adam Tinworth on Flickr

Image Credit: Adam Tinworth on Flickr

Are We Defining Long-Form Content Incorrectly? 

I have talked about “long-form content” quite a bit lately (including on a Blab-cast about same on AGBeat recently), as I observe many platforms fighting for (more sustained) attention. But are these platforms, like Medium, LinkedIn Pulse, and Facebook Notes, really “long-form?” Is defining the form versus Tweets and standard Facebook status updates enough to declare them “long?” Perhaps it’s a semantic debate, but I fear going much farther down the road of declaring 1,000-word treatises (or even blog posts like this) “long-form” when they take less time to consume than an episode of “Modern Family.”

I began thinking of that when Bryan Person reminded me of a podcast that I had heard much of in the past but never made the time for (cue ironic laughter), the “Longform Podcast;” more to to the point, links to articles more in the spirit (or length, at least) of a site like the late, lamented Grantland, with the purpose of putting more thought and art behind prose, rather than, well, posts like this one.

How are we defining long-form content? This post from Wordstream acknowledges disagreement but finally settles on articles of 1,200 words or longer. If we are to agree with the national average reading speed of 300 words per minute, (I scored 365 on my try, for what it’s worth), then “long-form” applies to an article one can read in 4 minutes.

Medium helpfully estimates the time it would take to read the articles hosted on their site, and in my visits articles tend to be marked as “3-5 minutes.” Is this long-form? Medium, by its very name, does not claim that, but that seems to be how we define long form. One post did some digging into data and found the optimum post to be 7 minutes (which I will take from my link above to mean 2,100 words on average). “Long?” The Bealtes’ “Hey Jude” is longer.

I am trying to take more care in the future over what “long-form” really means and defining it appropriately. I hope it makes me a tiresome pedant. When I’m done here, I’m off to read a book.

How Dare Twitter Try to Make its Timeline Useful!

UPDATE (2/10): Twitter was planning something after all- let the funeral procession begin!

Twitter’s latest tinkering is not a cool-looking feature that nobody I know uses– and that I like but never use; it’s not tinkering with its executive team, though I suppose that continues. No, Twitter has dared to announce that it wants to tweak the algorithm so that the main timeline follows an algorithm rather than a strict chronology. This has led to the #RIPTwitter trending hashtag (I wonder how Twitter feels about that feature as I write this):

Screen Shot 2016-02-06 at 1.42.50 PM

As someone who follows far too many people, I find the main Twitter feed to be unreadable, so welcome this change if it improves things. I can understand how people who are better at curating their Twitter follows might worry about the change in their carefully cultivated experience, but also wonder if the changes to their feeds will be all that significant, due to the smaller sample from which the algorithm to choose. But then I again I don’t know how it works, or how this one will work.

There is a more in-depth (though not “long-form”) discussion of this announcement by my Stone Temple Consulting colleague, Mark Traphagen, on our company’s blog. He agrees with the “wait and see, it might be a good thing” take.

Beware of Tweets Bearing Gifs.

Meanwhile, another potential feature may be rolling out. I may have made my peace with gifs some time ago, but I’m not entirely sure. Either way, Twitter is testing gif support for iOS (iOS= “beta test guinea pigs, when it’s ready we’ll roll it out to the cool users on Android).


Still like gifs?

Facebook Friends Day

Facebook declared Thursday, February 4 “Friends Day” (Wouldn’t Wednesday have made for a nice rhyme? Opportunity wasted!), creating custom videos for users.


image credit: an extremely sad person

h/t Nathan Gilliatt, though I cannot confirm this was his result.

Get Your Pitchforks and Torches Out, Somebody Redesigned Their Logo

Oh no, Uber redesigned their logo, and people hate it. I don’t know if it’s good or not, I don’t really care too much. But it seems every time a brand changes its logo without a pressing reason, the angry mobs come out. Lesson? Don’t mess with your logo.

As some people point out, they could put more energy into improving the product. No, “I think the founders are jerks” is not what I’m talking about, but perhaps dealing with labor issues could be a start (not that they aren’t trying).

Also, there’s more to the logo change than design: the company is differentiating its logo for riders, drivers and even different locations. That aspect is interesting and practical, no matter what you think of the design.


But Where’s the ‘U’?

Sometimes, changing a logo can be an attempt to distract people from the company’s putrid product. Right, Toronto Maple Leafs fans?

Also, in honor of the Chinese New Year starting February 8, a number of friends pointed out to me an interesting design choice for a “Year of the Monkey” poster. Oops. Feel free to click through to the link, I decided that the image can be interpreted as obscenity that I won’t display on the blog. If you look closely, I suppose you can see a monkey and not a graphic depiction of sex. Maybe.  (I initially had a link to the designer’s page, but as I write this the entire web site seems to be down.)


Social Media Top 5: Virality and Death (of Twitter, Newspapers, Likes)

So macabre, my theme this week:

Image Credit: apionid on Flickr

Image Credit: apionid on Flickr

How to Viral and So Can You (Spoiler Alert: You Can’t, Really)

I remain skeptical of the idea of “viral” media, or at least the implication one can control whether or not something truly takes off , but this is a good article about being nimble and prepared if you want to increase your chances. It’s not about whether you can make something go viral, but whether or not you have put yourself in the best position. I’ll ignore the fact that I had neither seen nor heard of the video in question until this article about how viral it was came across my feed:

The Times Square snowboarding video: Why it went viral

In any case, the video looks fun- and snow in Times Square, I can tell you from firsthand experience, is pretty magical:

Master Your Twitter Domain, and All That Implies

If I ever noticed Twitter ads, I might actually be angry or jealous about this:

Twitter Has Stopped Showing Ads to Some of Its Most Valuable Users

Is this something Twitter’s “valuable users” care about and notice? Did they ask for this? Will this save Twitter (from something)? I don’t know. I guess it’s nice to give special treatment to their best customers, if they can quantify a benefit (more ads served to the people hanging on their every Tweet, perhaps).

Meanwhile, on the Twitter Death Watch

The “Twitter is Dead” and “Facebook is Eating Twitter’s Lunch” crowds are still making for some interesting reading.

This first article states flatly that “Facebook Squashed Twitter,” which assumes two things:

  1. Twitter and Facebook are direct competitors. Sort of true, but also sort of not true, and Twitter can’t really compete on those grounds so “squash” is as easy to say as it is fun (just say it out loud: “squash”).
  2. That Twitter is squashed (still fun to say), with hundreds of millions of users and

This New Yorker article*  seems to take the “It’s Dead” tack, though with a hopeful penultimate paragraph the author betrays what I suspect: Twitter is better off not being compared to its bigger cousin, especially now. That doesn’t mean it’s dead, but by all means keep writing about it, everyone.

*I checked to make sure it wasn’t the Onion-esque Borowitz Report; seriously, I assume every New Yorker link I see on Facebook is actually a fake story.

OK, Maybe We Will Say That Newspapers are Dead Soon

I have followed the “death of newspapers” stories for more than a decade, from the original land rush to providing free news content on the Internet, to Paul Gillin’s “Newspaper Death Watch” blog documenting the folding of weaker papers and the threats to ad revenues, circulation, and the industry in general, to my role in helping the Christian Science Monitor announce their more controlled change to a digital-first news organization, and beyond. What I have always resisted is declaring the “death” of anything, even if that anything shrinks in demand and importance: after all, vinyl records are still around, and may even be in a resurgence despite the anachronistic technology. Not a perfect analogy, but that’s all I got.

This excellent article by Dan Kennedy on the current state of the newspaper decline is a good, yet sobering, read, however. Reading it through shifts my thinking to what the real argument should be: not whether newspapers survive, but how journalism will survive- in fact, Kennedy cites a Clay Shirky quote emphasizing just that point (I swear I thought of it before I reached that part of the article).

The point? It’s not the platforms that matter most, but what pursuits they bring to life. Journalism will live on, but how, and in what form? That is what we should be looking for rather than counting dwindling circulation numbers.


How Do You Feel? Choose From Only 6

We have been hearing about alternatives to “liking” on Facebook, and now it appears that 6 disparate reactions will make up the choices. Surprisingly, they will not be denial, anger, bargaining, depression, acceptance and Zeppo, but perhaps that not too far off:

Is Facebook dictating a limited range of human emotion? This not-terribly-old article suggests they may actually be expanding them from a core of four. Who knows? I can’t wait to not notice these have been implemented.

Image credit: Mr. Pony on Flickr

Image credit: Mr. Pony on Flickr


Social Media Top 5: Moldy Peach, Twitter Censorship is Awesome, Content Shock Still Imaginary


Still Fuzzy About Peach

Image credit: Steven Depolo on Flickr

Image credit: Steven Depolo on Flickr

Here is my review of the new Peach social app (the Android version):


I think that covers it, and is why I pay no mind to an app being declared the “next big thing” when it is not on both (or all, if Windows gains momentum) of the major platforms. Others decided that wasn’t enough, opting to go all the way to the just as silly “X is Dead” meme:

Death of Peach: An eerie echo of Meerkat’s collapse

Alrighty then… that was fun while it lasted.

Free Speech? Not for You

This past week, Twitter punished user Milo Yiannopoulos for frequent abusive behavior on the platform by removing his Blue Checkmark, which signifies a user is “verified.” Setting aside the fact that Yiannopoulos is Yiannopolous with or without his blue stain and people will still know who he is, does the punishment of members of a platform, which also can include account suspensions or bans, constitute an assault on free speech?

No. It’s community management. You participate at the discretion of those who run the platform. You misbehave, you get kicked out. That’s not censorship. Even if you are a self-styled “journalist” writing for a partisan web site.

A Measured Take on Content Glut

I have taken a dim view on the concept of “content shock” and other identical ideas that preceded it.

This article by Randy Milanovic is not the first to take a more measured stance but still come out agreeing with my take that good content is a winner, no matter what. I hope to see more marketing thinkers take the approach (that is, shock us with more good content about it) that does not leave people afraid to make content for fear of not standing out, but continuing to make more content that stands out to the right audiences.

Newsjacking: Maybe We Should Just Ban it All

12473838_10156638071605105_5692193140527460209_oThe great David Bowie died last week. Many of us are fans, and he remains very influential. But were we spared “marketing lessons” posts in the wake of his death? Of course not. Here is a link to illustrate my point but I would prefer you save yourself by not clicking through to read. I know I have groused about this lousy use of the tactic often and recently – but maybe for now we should just call a moratorium on all types of “newsjacking” until further notice: until people stop straining relevancy beyond its breaking point to load the web with clickbait.

Perhaps we can redefine “content shock” to “delivering electrical deterrents to those inclined to tasteless newsjacking.”

That said, I did find an article by the one person qualified to write on lessons from David Bowie: of course, it’s David Bowie.

Social Network Image Size Guide

Constant Contact has once again published a size guide for images for social media accounts. I find these extremely handy on the agency side for setting up and maintaining accounts for clients.

One thing I would love: this guide is for 2016; what has changed that I need to pay attention to? That would be handy, but at least the 2015 guide is still online for comparison.


Social Media Top 5: Find Something Interesting to Read

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Medium is Not a Publishing Tool?

As often as anything else on Medium, it seems, I see posts from Founder Ev Williams or one of his cohort with a windy explanation of what Medium is or isn’t. The latest (as I write this) is that Medium is not a publishing tool, but a network, presumably meaning a social network.

It has come to the point where I start to regard Medium partisans not as publishers, but a cult-like cabal trying to will today’s vision of the product into being (if that sounds harsh, I originally wrote “apologists” instead of  “partisans;” I am capable of only so much moderation).

<obligatory Star Wars reference>

Maybe it’s a Jedi mind trick: “This is not the publishing platform you are looking for. This is a network.”

</obligatory Star Wars reference>

Maybe it’s an attempt at mass hypnotism: “This is not a publishing platform. It is now a network. Now, it’s a chicken. Now take off your pants and dance around the room.”

Anyway, I don’t quite understand how Medium works as a network. I go to it when I see a link form a friend or the Medium Daily Digest email, and often find some good content published there. I do not find shares and comments up-front as part of the content, nor do I find it easy (compared to Facebook and Twitter) to connect to other subscribers, comment, and share content within the platform; my latest attempt to comment resulted in the screenshot above.

So- for me, Medium is a publishing platform, with all the good (great content) and bad (it’s not the authors’ owned platform) that implies – until, of course, the platform gets a radical makeover.

Social Media is Not Broken, but Your Ability to Twist Logic without Breaking it is Admirable

Speaking of good content I found via Medium, this post trying to explain why social media is “broken” does a much better job showing how publishers work hard and produce good content to rise to the top of your attention than it does proving its point. Still, worth a read. And the dots look cool. I liked the yellow ones best.

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Twitter Posts are About to Get Very Very Very Very Very Very Very Very Very Very Very Very Very Very Very Very Very Very Very Very Very Very long.

Twitter, which is not “dead” or “dying,” (sorry, kneejerk social media gurus), is apparently considering a radical change: increasing the character limit to 10,000 characters (about 1,500 words or more). So, basically, it would be a blogging platform. Or a Medium. Or a Facebook Notes.

If this happens, is it a surrender of Twitter’s uniqueness, or a bold transition to attract and retain people through better content (and does it compete with Medium, founded by Twitter’s Ev Williams)? If the initial presentation is 140 characters, that would ease the transition. If they retain that presentation, perhaps that is enough to retain what keeps Twitter unique- the ability to trdae quick messages but with the added ‘read more” ability. It will be interesting to see.

My former colleague Chris Thilk at Voce Communications has some thoughts on the proposed change on their blog. Also, InformationWeek raises the important business angle: more engaging content to keep people on Twitter may create better advertising/revenue opportunities (“conversational ads?”).

Disclosure dopiness

While confusion over what social media posts are really paid endorsements or enthusiastic fanliness, continues, the “they should know better” school of disclosure extends beyond marketing pros to “journalists” as well. Should ESPN jock-jockeys disclose that their Domino’s Pizza tweets are ads? Yes; yes, they should.


Request for my twitter handle. Was I being rude?

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