Facebook to Change News Feed to Focus on Friends and Family: Here’s Everything You Need to Know

The goal of Facebook’s News Feed is to show people the stories that are most relevant to them. That’s no small task when you have over 1.65 billion people to keep happy and over 1,500 stories per day to prioritize for each of those individual users. Now, Facebook has announced one of their most significant News Feed shuffles.

 

On Wednesday, Facebook shared that the News Feed algorithm is going to shift so that it will more favorably promote content posted by the friends and family of users.

 

These changes are likely to mean that content posted by brands and publishers will show up less prominently in News Feeds. In the announcement, the company explained their priority is keeping you connected to the people, places and things you want to be connected to – starting with the people you are friends with on Facebook.

 

Back in April 2015, Facebook made a similar algorithm update trying to ensure that stories posted directly by the friends you care about will be higher up in News Feed, so you are less likely to miss them. But based on feedback, Facebook understands that people are still worried about missing important updates from the friends.

 

This update is likely to affect all types of content posted by brands and publishers, including links, videos, live videos and photos. Facebook said it anticipates that this update may cause reach and referral traffic to decline for many Pages who’s traffic comes directly through Page posts.

 

The update will have less of an impact, however, if a lot of your referral traffic is the result of people sharing your content and their friends liking and commenting on it. Links or Page content shared by friends or content your friends interact with frequently will still appear higher in the feed.

 

For example, the post from my personal Facebook account (on the right below) would be more likely to appear above the post from Buffer’s Page (on the left) in the News Feed:

 

newsfeed

 

What do users expect from the News Feed?

 

Facebook’s success is built on getting people the stories that matter to them most.

 

To help make sure you don’t miss the friends and family posts you are likely to care about, Facebook try to put those posts toward the top of your News Feed. The News Feed learns and adapts over time based on the content you interact with the most, too. For example, if you tend to like photos from your sister, they’ll start putting her posts closer to the top of your feed so you won’t miss what she posted while you were away.

 

Facebook research has also shown that, after friends and family, people have two other strong expectations when they come to News Feed:

 
 
    • The News Feed should inform. People expect the stories in their feed to be meaningful to them – and we have learned over time that people value stories that they consider informative. Something that one person finds informative or interesting may be different from what another person finds informative or interesting – this could be a post about a current event, a story about your favorite celebrity, a piece of local news, or a recipe. Facebook’s algorithm is always trying to better understand what is interesting and informative to you personally, so those stories appear higher up in your feed.
 
    • The News Feed should entertain. Facebook also found that people enjoy their feeds as a source of entertainment. For some people, that’s following a celebrity or athlete; for others,  it’s watching Live videos and sharing funny photos with their friends. Again, the company’s News Feed algorithm tries to understand and predict what posts on Facebook you find entertaining to make sure you don’t miss out on those.
 
 

The makeup of a successful social network (and why this update is essential for Facebook)

 

Despite its venture into publishing and partnerships with large news and entertainment brands, at its heart, Facebook is still a place for friends. And without solidifying our connections with those closest to us, Facebook could face struggles to keep its 1.65 billion monthly active users coming back.

 

To understand the inner-workings of social networks and what makes us keep using them, the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology studied networks like Friendster and Myspace with the goal of figuring out what factors can be detrimental to a social network.

 

As explained over at Wired:

 

They found that when the time and effort (the costs) associated with being a member of a social network outweigh the benefits, then a decline in users becomes likely. If one person leaves, their friends become more likely to leave and as more people leave, this can lead to a cascading collapse in membership.

 

Networks like Friendster and Myspace were the Facebook of their day. Both had tens, and eventually hundreds, of millions of registered users, but what the study found is that the bonds between users weren’t particularly strong. Many users had very few close connections, and it appears there’s a direct correlation between how connected we feel to our friends and family and our affiliation with each network.

 

If Facebook users are worried about missing important updates from the people they care about most, then their affiliation with the network could begin to decline as they find other ways to stay connected. And once user begins to leave, or become un-engaged, it could have a waterfall effect on the network. David Garcia, a professor at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, explains:

 

“First the users in the outer cores start to leave, lowering the benefits of inner cores, cascading through the network towards the core users, and thus unraveling.”

 

You can see how a social network unravels in the below graphic (Friendster is used in the image):

 
 

social-network-connections

 

 

For Facebook, the News Feed is the most integral part of their product to make us feel connected with those we care about. And as such, it’s important for Facebook to keep the content we want to see the most at the top of the feed.

 

How will this update impact business Pages?

 

The changes will affect all types of content posted by Pages, including links, videos, live videos and photos.

 

In their “News Feed Values” shared alongside this announcement, Facebook made it clear that content from friends and family will come first. And the company also highlighted the importance of authentic communication and being inclusive of all perspectives and view points without favoring specific kinds of sources – or ideas.

 

We expect that this update may cause organic post reach and referral traffic to decline for some Pages. The impact will vary for every page and will greatly depend on the composition of your audience or the way in which your content is shared on Facebook. For example, if a lot of your referral traffic is the result of people sharing your content and their friends liking and commenting on it, there will be less of an impact than if the majority of your traffic comes directly through Page posts.

 

As with all Facebook algorithm updates, it may take a little time to determine exactly what will continue to work and how to increase organic reach (though Facebook feels like it’s shifting more towards a pay-to-play market for businesses). 

 

One tactic that could become increasingly important is the amplification of brand content. With Facebook favoring content shared by users rather than Pages, it feels essential to find new and innovative ways to encourage your audience to share your content directly to Facebook. Ensuring your content is discoverable away for the Facebook News Feed could be another key play as well.

 

It also feels important to keep a focus on what people are looking for from the News Feed. As mentioned earlier, aside from friends and family, Facebook users turn to the News Feed to be informed and entertained. With those goals in mind, it’s worth thinking about how the content you create for Facebook can satisfy those desires.

 

Over to you

 

In their announcement, Facebook says their work is “only 1 percent finished” so it feels like there are plenty more twists and turns ahead for the News Feed.

 

I’d love to hear your thoughts on this update and how it may affect the way you use Facebook and the types of content your share? Please feel free to leave a comment below and I’m excited to continue the conversation with you. 

 

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Pirates using YouTube’s 360 videos to hide movies from copyright detection

YouTube


While 360 videos have become increasingly popular thanks to Samsung, Ricoh, and countless other devices, it’s also becoming a bastion for movie pirates to hide content to avoid detection by copyright protection programs. It seems that pirates are combining two videos together and making it a 360 panoramic.

 
 

//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js

 

Earlier today, Adam Conover, the star of the TruTV show called “Adam Ruins Everything” highlighted something he found on YouTube where the entire “Clueless” movie was posted as a 360 video. The default view is on the movie, but you can pan around to see some random backdrop that gives the impression that it’s something else. But it’s not.

 
Someone embedded the entire film

Above: Someone embedded the entire film “Clueless” into a 360 video and has placed it on YouTube. While you can watch the entire clip normally, you’re also able to cycle around. This likely was done to skirt copyright protection programs the video network has in place.

Image Credit: Screenshot
 

YouTube uses its Content ID bot to scour its social network in search of copyrighted material in all uploaded videos. However, it has drawn criticism by those that say Content ID is flagging content for organizations that don’t own the material they claim. In 2013, independent developer Jonathan Blow tweeted that he received a violation notice saying his game The Witness was owned by Sony. Eventually that notice was dismissed.

 

Over time, YouTube’s system has become somewhat sophisticated so pirates are in need of finding new loopholes, and it seems to have discovered it in 360 videos. How long they’ll remain posted on the popular social network remains to be seen as it’s likely YouTube will have a fix for this soon.

 

We’ve reached out to YouTube for comment and will update if we hear back.

 
 
 

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Podcast 514: You don’t know, Jack?

 
 

What’s up with the headphone jack obsession about the upcoming iPhone 7 models? Host Glenn Fleishman and Macworld’s associate managing editor Leah Yamshon discuss how much virtual ink has been spilled for how long, and yet nobody outside Apple still knows what’s coming.

Leah and Glenn also ponder other iPhone 7 rumors, the end of Apple’s sales of the Thunderbolt Display, whether new AirPort base stations are coming, and if MacBook Pros will be updated later this summer. We talk about iOS 10 and macOS Sierra, due out in July as public betas, and new features coming from Dropbox for free and paid users.

Joining Glenn at the end of the podcast is Fraser Speirs, head of secondary at Cedars School of Excellence in Scotland to talk about Swift Playgrounds, a new app from Apple to teach kids (and adults) programming.

To read this article in full or to leave a comment, please click here

55% of Visitors Read Your Articles For 15 Seconds or Less: Why We Should Focus on Attention Not Clicks

Millions of blog posts are published every day.

 

A small percentage gain traction and attract readers.

 

And among those readers, 55% will read the blog post for 15 seconds or less.

 

(If you’re still reading, thanks for sticking with this one!)

 

The internet is a daily battle for attention. Everywhere you turn, people are trying to share the latest marketing hacks with many of the same points echoed repeatedly.

 

I’m guilty of it myself, and I completely understand why many of us write articles that are a little similar and repetitive. It’s because they work. You could argue that content is becoming less art and more science. There are formulas to it – if you find the best keywords and write the correct content, you can build a high-traffic blog (that’s almost a guarantee).

 

But is traffic the goal of content? Or can there be some new and unusual ways of measuring content success? I have some ideas I’d love to share.

 

line-section

 

Do the surface metrics really matter?

 

Why pageviews and sessions might be the wrong numbers to chase

 

Often (and, I’m guilty of this too) you’ll hear someone talk about the success of their content by saying something like: “10,000 people read my post” or “60,000 people saw my video on Facebook.”

 

But I’ve started to wonder if this is really an accurate measure of successful content?

 

Even if someone clicks on your article, the likelihood of them taking it all in is very slim. The internet has changed many of our habits. But one thing that hasn’t changed in nearly 20 years is the way we consume content online. Most of us still skim and rarely read a full post.

 

Many publishers have now started to focus on “attention metrics” alongside more traditional measurements like pageviews. Medium’s Ev Williams explains their stance on which numbers are meaningful:

 

We pay more attention to time spent reading than number of visitors at Medium because, in a world of infinite content – where there are a million shiny attention-grabbing objects a touch away and notifications coming in constantly – it’s meaningful when someone is actually spending time.

 

Maybe we need to stop focusing on how we can hack and grow the number of views our content gets. And instead, focus on how we can make each reader care about what we’re saying.

 

I’d argue that you don’t build a successful blog by accumulating a huge number of page views. Rather, you build a successful blog by creating something of value.

 

The only way content will drive results for any business is if it provides value to someone else. It’s not necessarily about how many people you reach; it’s how many you connect with. Because when people connect with us, they remember us, come back for more, trust what we have to say, and may eventually buy from us.

 

When you’re creating great content, you don’t need to live or die by your analytics. Maybe we should let go of our desire to write for everyone in order to skyrocket our pageviews, and instead hone in on sharing what’s unusual, valuable, and unique?

 

line-section

 

How to measure the value of your content

 

3 under-used metrics to tell you just how valuable your content is

 

Value is quite subjective and can be hard to measure. In this section, I’d love to share a few ways we’re starting to measure the value of our content here at Buffer.

 

1. Run an NPS survey

 

A Net Promoter Score (NPS) is commonly used to measure loyalty between a brand and a consumer. It can also be a great way to measure the value that your blog is delivering to readers.

 

You calculate NPS by asking a simple question: How likely is it that you would recommend our blog to a friend or colleague? (Using a 0-10 scale to answer.)

 

Respondents to the question are then grouped as follows:

 
 
    • Promoters (score 9-10) are loyal enthusiasts who will keep buying and refer others, fueling growth
 
    • Passives (score 7-8) are satisfied but unenthusiastic customers who are vulnerable to competitive offerings.
 
    • Detractors (score 0-6) are unhappy customers who can damage your brand and impede growth through negative word-of-mouth.
 
 

Subtracting the percentage of Detractors from the percentage of Promoters yields the Net Promoter Score, which can range from a low of -100 (if every customer is a Detractor) to a high of 100 (if every customer is a Promoter).

 

This handy graphic from the Net Promoter Network highlights the formula:

 

nps

 

By running an NPS survey on your blog you can begin to understand how many of your readers truly value the content you’re creating and whether they would be happy to share it with their networks.

 

How to run an NPS Survey

 

There are plenty of great tools out there to help you run an NPS Survey on your blog and I’d love to share a few below:

 
 
 
 
 
 
 

You can also create your own survey using a tool like Typeform and distribute it to your readers. One thing that feels important to be mindful of is ensuring you reach all kinds of readers with your survey. For example, sending it only to your email subscribers could slightly skew results as they’re likely to already be your most engaged readers.

 

2. Pay attention to the comments

 

There has been a lot of debate about the state of blog comments. With the rise of social networks like Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn, readers have a multitude of ways to engage with your content:

 
 
    • They can share a link to your post on Twitter, Facebook (or any network of their choice)
 
    • They can interact with a post where you’ve shared a link back to the blog (favoriting a tweet, sending a reply, liking on Facebook)
 
    • They can retweet your tweet sharing the post or share your Facebook post
 
    • And much, much more…
 
 

With all these options and ways to interact with content, you could argue that a blog comment is losing its relevancy – or on the contrary, you could see it that the value of a blog comment is rising.

 

Knowing that people can share and comment on your post anywhere, the fact they’re taking the time to respond directly within the post itself could be perceived as the highest form of engagement.

 

For us, comments are an increasingly important metric and one we’re focused on measuring. In Q2 2016, we’ve had a focus on increasing the average comments on each blog post by 100% from Q1 and here’s how we’re getting on:

 

comment-tracking

 

Comments feel like a great measure of the value your content creates. If someone takes the time to spark a discussion on reply to us through a comment then we feel the post must have been useful to them in some way or sparked some curiosity.  A great example is our recent social media study post. This one generated over 70 comments with readers sharing their thoughts on the study and also how our findings compare to their own.

 

3. Monitor mentions and shares

 

Whenever I publish a post on the Buffer blog, I’ll get a few mentions on Twitter or LinkedIn when people share it. As a result of this, I’ve started to build a slight intuition around how much value each post is generating based on shares and mentions.

 

When a post really delivers value and goes above and beyond reader expectations, I’ll notice a distinct spike in the number of shares it receives and the number of mentions we receive both via the @buffer accounts and my own personal social media accounts.

 

It’s super easy to keep tabs on how many times your content has been shared. Sharing plugins like SumoMe and Social Warfare can provide share counts on your posts and PostReach (full disclosure: this is a tool a few friends and I have built) and Buzzsumo can pull in data about who is sharing each of your posts on Twitter. I also like to pay extra close attention to my mentions on Twitter after a new post goes live so I can gauge how it’s doing and see what people are saying.

 

A quick tip: Promise value in your headline

 

Headlines are amazingly important to the success of a piece of content. Before we publish a post, we spend a bit of time focusing on how we can craft a headline that gives the content the best chance of being seen. Amazing content behind a weak headline probably won’t get seen.

 

Sometimes we’ll create between 20-30 headlines for each post and choose the one that feels best and other times we’ll have a quick chat and riff on how we can make the headline stand out. Here are some extracts from a recent conversation between Leo and I:

 

headline-convo

 

The original headline we had was:

 

53 Graphic Design Terms and Definitions for Non-Designers

 

And the title we decided on when we hit publish is:

 

Why Every Marketer in 2016 Needs to Be a (Part-Time) Designer: 53 Design Terms and Tips to Level-Up

 

This post has generated plenty of shares so far and 18 comments (at the time of writing). By focusing on the headline, we were able to promise value: 53 Design Terms and Tips to Level-Up. And also spark a discussion about the role of a marketer: Why Every Marketer in 2016 Needs to Be a (Part-Time) Designer. Without the time spent tweaking this headline, I’m not sure we would have had such success with this post.

 

line-section

 

What makes an idea worth writing about?

 

Every blog post begins as an idea, but what makes an idea stand out and how do you know which ideas to act on and publish?

 

Before choosing a post to write, I tend to ask myself three questions:

 
 
    1. Is this actionable?
 
    1. Who will amplify this?
 
    1. What makes it unique?
 
 

And I’d love to go into detail on each of the three questions below:

 

1. Is it actionable?

 

On the Buffer blog, we strive to deliver content that helps readers solve a problem or challenge they face in their every-day work environment. This means we like them to be able to read a post and directly action something they’ve learned from it.

 

We focus on making content actionable because we believe that if someone learns something from one of our posts they’re likely to remember us and even share the post with their network as a New York Times study found that content that is practically useful gets shared more than any other content:

 

surprising-interesting-practical-viral

 

2. Who will amplify it? 

 

When creating content, it’s important to hone in on your audience and think about who you’re writing for. One way I like to frame this is to ask myself “who will amplify this post?” If I can’t answer this question then I won’t write the post. Normally, this question forces me to focus on a specific area of marketing or a specific role.

 

(h/t to Rand Fishkin for this one)

 

3. What makes it unique?

 

We’re surrounded by content nowadays and if you want to stand out, you need to craft content that’s unique.

 

What makes a piece of content unique can vary from post to post. Sometimes it can be timing that makes a post unique, for example, when we published our post on Twitter Polls it was launched shorty after Polls were publicly announced and was one of the first guides on how to use the feature.

 

Other ways to make your content unique include:

 
 
    • Sharing your unique perspective: One of the best ways to make a piece of content unique is to create something that only you can by adding in your own perspective and point of view. As Jory McKay explains on the Crew blog: “Everything has been said before, but it’s never been said by you.” 
 
    • Going deeper on a topic that anyone else: There might be a ton of posts out there about Facebook Ads, for example, but you can create a unique post on this subject by going more in-depth than anyone else has.
 
 

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Over to you

 

I believe we can create more value if we pay closer attention to depth than breadth. It’s not so much how many people click on our content, it’s how many people pay attention to our content. It’s how many people we can make an impression on and connect with that really matters.

 

Measuring the success of blog content is an interesting topic and I’d love to hear your thoughts on the subject.

 

Do you feel we put too much focus on the metrics like page views and sessions? How do you measure the quality and value provided by a blog post? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below. 

 

Madden publisher EA settles with NFL legend Jim Brown over likeness dispute

Jim Brown got paid.


Publisher Electronic Arts has finally found the key to stopping an offensive assault by former Cleveland Browns running back Jim Brown: you pay him money.

 

EA has settled a lawsuit with National Football League hall of famer Jim Brown for $600,000, according to Brown’s attorney, Robert Carey. Brown alleged that EA was using his trademark likeness to promote the Madden NFL franchise as a member of throwback all-legends teams. The annual Madden releases from EA are always among the top-selling games in the $13 billion market that comprises new games sold at retailers in the United States.

 

That makes EA a target, and Brown went after the company hard for violating his trademark.

 

“I took a stand for all athletes and laid a framework for future plaintiffs with my great legal team,” Brown said in a canned statement. “Hopefully, this is a step forward in getting companies like Electronic Arts to recognize the value that athletes have in selling their products.”

 

Previously, a federal court in Los Angeles in 2009 and a federal appeals court in 2013 both threw out Brown’s trademark claim. In each of those instances, the judges determined that games were expressive works, and EA was making a new work featuring the player. That would not violate a trademark based on artists’ protected rights of expression. He only would’ve won that case if his lawyers proved that EA was deliberately misleading consumers into thinking that the football pro had officially endorsed the game.

 

“As expressive works, the Madden NFL video games are entitled to the same First Amendment protection as great literature, plays, or books,” reads the 2013 9th Circuit court of Appeals decision. “Brown’s likeness is artistically relevant to the games and there are no alleged facts to support the claim that EA explicitly misled consumers as to Brown’s involvement with the games.”

 

GamesBeat has asked EA for a statement, and we’ll update this story with anything it might have to add when it responds.

 

After the dismissals, Brown shifted his strategy. Instead of claiming a trademark dispute, he argued that EA was violating his “rights to publicity,” which is the legal idea that people can control how their likeness is used in public. The federal government in the U.S. has no law regarding publicity rights but 28 states do. The First Amendment, however, often overrules these laws when cases reach state-level Supreme Courts.

 

But publicity-right cases have had success against EA. The company stopped making NCAA Football games after college players, like former Nebraska quarterback Sam Keller, filed suit against it for using their likeness without permission. In 2013, EA agreed to pay $40 million to settle a suit against it by a group of former college athletes that appeared in the company’s college basketball and football games. And Brown has now joined those ranks.

 
 
 

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