Publishing with Buffer

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We’re very excited about this new partnership integration which we have launched today with Buffer. For those of you know who don’t know Buffer is a social media management platform trusted by 6M+ people worldwide. We listened to our customers feedback about having scheduling content feature built in, but we thought we should link up with experts in their fields. Buffer was also the favourite choice amongst our customers so we didn’t need to look elsewhere.

By publishing and scheduling your content through Buffer, you are able to to do to so on the following social platforms:

  • Twitter
  • Facebook (Profile/ page/ group)
  • Linkedin (Profile/ page)
  • Instagram
  • Pinterest
  • G+ (Profile/ page)

Another speciality of Buffer which is close to our heart and values is, Buffer will only let you publish new content which you know absolutely what our mission as a platform by cutting through the noise and improving the way organisations discover, manage and distribute information and analysis. 

To get discovering, you can find this new feature within your board Publishing settings – Once you have connected your Buffer account, then you can easily manage what you would like to publish, whether it be articles, story arcs or editor approved only. The content will then be automatically added to your queue within Buffer and you can schedule as you normally would.

Feature_Buffer

Please note the feature mentioned above are only available with our Pro plan – to find out more about the pricing packages you can see further information here. In addition, your queued content may vary depending on which Buffer account you have.

 

The Death of Klout is not the end for Influencer Models

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Amongst the General Data Protection Regulation’s (GDPR) first casualties, Klout stands out for the lack of sorrow at its demise. The premise was simple enough: distilling users presence across multiple social media platforms to give a single score. The (almost always) two digit number bears an eerie resemblance to the rather vague and sensationalist descriptions of China’s social credit scheme, Sesame Credit – albeit several years ahead of the Communist Party’s alleged plans.

The premise was flawed for several reasons. For one, there were concerns about the ethics of an opaque system for measuring social media influence, not least one boiling users’ influence down to a couple of numbers. Secondly, and perhaps more pressingly, Klout’s model was (for want of a better word), useless. Rather than showing anything meaningful about social media influencers, it did little more than aggregate scores (often woefully poorly). When a social media score did little more than  Even worse were its descriptions of influencers areas of specialism: as The Drum pointed out, Klout’s view of Pope Francis portrayed him as both an expert theologian and a leader on Marxism, warfare, and Miss Universe. Such profiles did not fill the world of marketing and PR with great hope for Klout, which is winding down on May 25th (the same day as GDPR).

Whilst the regulations undoubtedly played a role in the downfall of Klout (a service which almost certainly didn’t play by regulations in terms of data collection and processing), its failure to make a meaningful service was almost certainly at its core. That’s not to say that studying influencers is worthless for marketers, journalists, and communication professionals – just that smarter ways of studying influence are necessary.

One of these comes from Cronycle’s service. In addition to using Twitter data and network analysis to produce our Insight Reports. Cronycle keeps tabs on influencers across multiple topics through our Right Relevance platform across dozens of topics. Rather than giving users a single score, they receive scores for individual topics and sub-topics – this more granular approach is more valuable since it allows users to narrow down on the specific expert or influencer they want. It also builds up links with related influencers, creating networks which reflect underlying similarities and ties.

An image of top influencers on the topic of GDPR. The sliders on the right allow for users to narrow down on the group they are particularly interested in.

The service extends beyond Klout’s focus on numbers, though. At the broader end of the scale, Croncyle’s service gives a dashboard allowing you to search through topics, compare trending hashtags, look at the top influencers and domains, and see related topics.

The Cronycle Influencer and Topic dashboard for AI

Cronycle users can also search through articles by top influencers on their areas of speciality (as well as through related topics), giving both the tweets by the influencers and their articles. Domain searches are another feature, giving a list of top topics and top influencers for specific sites.

The final aspect is Topic Intel, which allows users to compare a single subject across time – an equally important comparison to that between different subjects.

Topic intel for AI and Machine Learning

Users can easily find how the top spots have changed – or not – for their subjects, as sorted by retweets or mentions (all Twitter activity).

Klout may be dying, but the influencer model is by no means moribund. Holistic approaches, like Cronycle’s, build on Klout’s work of showing influence through a numeric system but seriously ramping up the extra information required to make that useful.

Does Social Media Really Polarize Our Politics?

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It’s often said that social media has a polarizing effect on our politics. And, on the surface, this narrative makes a lot of sense. The polarization of politics has continued as social media has taken over our brains. And what social media does, among other things, is make a game of earning the approval of your peers, thus solidifying your group identity. When you post something that pleases the sensibilities of your cohort—whether it’s a handsome selfie or a solemn plea for stricter gun control—you get the satisfaction of an immediate bombardment of friendly notifications. The reward structure of the social media experience doesn’t provide incentives for expressing minority views, or objecting to the prevailing narratives, or befriending those who disagree with you.

Moreover, Twitter and Facebook aren’t great places for dialogue. Political arguments are usually futile in real life, even with all of the felicitousness provided by face-to-face interaction. It’s much worse when ideological disagreements need to be reduced to 280 characters, or haveto compete with cute pictures of somebody’s baby. In this setting, sensitivity and nuance doesn’t play well. What gets the most attention is pithiness and aggression. In short, social media enables the self-congratulation and self-separation of mutually hostile political factions. Sounds pretty polarizing, right?

Yes. However, there’s a big and obvious question here, which is whether this is actually any different from the pre-Twitter media landscape. Long before Facebook was ever a gleam in Mark Zuckerberg’s eye, the various political classes selected the media that was most collegial to their respective worldviews. To take America as an example, in previous decades, Christian conservatives tuned into right-wing talk radio to hear about the horrors of the gay agenda, whereas elite liberals picked up Harper’s to read about the horrors of capitalism. (This is still true today, in part.) Bubbles and echo chambers exist in absence of Twitter. All that’s required to create ideological homogeneity is tribal self-selection or homophily—the tendency of people to hang out with people who are like them and agree with them, given freedom of association. That’s definitely a pre-iPhone tendency.

But, of course, it’s still possible that social media has enhanced tribal patterns of behaviour—that this is not a difference of kind, but it is a difference in degree. So, if we check the data, what do we find? Well, it appears that social media does, in fact, have an effect on polarization. It’s just the opposite effect that critics might expect. According to a demographic study by Boxell et al., published by Stanford University, political polarization is actually less pronounced among demographics that use social media more often (young people, essentially). This shows that it’s unlikely that social media is a more powerful driver of polarization than old-fashioned media. (Or it shows that, even if social media does polarize, there’s some countervailing anti-polarizing force that’s much more powerful.)

And, like the just-so story about why social media polarizes, there’s an appealing readymade narrative about why the opposite might be true. While political disagreements on Twitter and Facebook tend to be shallow and nasty, they’re still genuine disagreements—something that doesn’t usually occur in traditional media. The New York Times doesn’t contain a second page declaring that all the articles on the front page are slanted. And while it’s true that debate programs are a staple of political television, such programs are usually staffed by a preexisting team who are paid to perform a predictable set of reactions to ongoing affairs. Meanwhile, on Twitter, it’s quite easy to run into novel objections to everything you believe in, which, even if they aren’t particularly convincing, might compel more considered private reflection.

Or maybe it’s even simpler than that. It’s possible that young people are less polarized because social media is so nasty and tribal. While a minority of social media influencers make a lot of provocative noise, it’s possible that the non-contributing majority is quietly alienated by the vitriol. While a controversial tweet with 1200 retweets looks impressive, there’s no way to measure the number of users who have quietly rolled their eyes and moved on—or have simply quit Twitter altogether.

There’s a larger lesson here, which is that it’s unwise to infer narratives of societal change based simply on the most visible behaviour provoked by one app or another. (Another demonstration of this: millennials have way less sex than their parents, despite the existence of Tinder and all the moral panic surrounding it.) Ultimately, sensationalist narratives about the polarizing effects of social media are just the kind of thing that’s popular on social media.

How to Boost Brand Awareness Using Social Media

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Social media has become a new sub-genre of digital marketing and one of the most effective marketing tools of today. If you own a business and are trying to build the best marketing campaign for your company, including social media marketing is a no-brainer. It will help you extend your audience reach and boost your company’s brand awareness. However, not all platforms are best for promoting your business, which is why you need to determine the most suitable social media channel before you start creating profiles for your company.

The type of services and products you offer affect the social media platform you should focus on, as well as who your target audience is. Understanding each platform’s reach is essential to your social media strategy. Whether you want to gain subscribers, sell products or services, or persuade your audience to a point – they first need to know who you are. So, here is what you can do to leverage the power of social media and boost your company’s brand awareness.

1. Who are the users of each social media platform?

The site Social Media Examiner provides an insight into the type and number of active users of each social media platform: Facebook – 1.86 billion active users; Instagram – 600 million active users; LinkedIn – 500 million active users; and Twitter – 319 million active users.

On Twitter, 22.5% of users are between 25-34 years old, while on Facebook, there’s no dominant age group. When it comes to Instagram, 28% of users are 18-29 years old, 80% of them are outside the U.S., and more than half are women. If you’re on LinkedIn, know that 61% of users are 30-64 years old (people with the most buying power).

With these statistics at hand, businesses looking to target Millennials should create Instagram and Twitter accounts, while those who want to target all-age audiences, or particularly those over 35, should get active on Facebook.

As for LinkedIn, it’s a platform used sporadically. People use it to look for businesses or jobs, or when they’re looking to hire. For most B2C companies, it comes after Instagram/Twitter/Facebook, while B2B companies should focus more efforts on LinkedIn.

2. Provide shareable and relevant content

The Internet is oversaturated with content, and as social media continues to increase rapidly, users get flooded with information and content. In order to stand out, you must create and post content that is relevant to your audience, interesting, informative, and shareable. This will make your brand reputation stronger.

Every piece of content you send out there should support your brand image. Articles, images, videos, and infographics often resonate greatly with audiences. On the other hand, if your audience is over 35, creating memes might reflect poorly on your brand.

Find out which content is likely to gain visibility on social media by looking at your research data. Also, look at your competitors’ content that received good social traction. Instead of trying to build content around unproven topics, create stronger content on the same or similar subjects that goes into more depth.

Also, be sure to use visual content, because articles and posts with images receive a lot more attention than just plain text content. You can use your own custom photos or quality free stock photos, and see the attention they’re able to attract.

3. Connect with influencers

Customers buy from brands they trust the most, in order to choose the best for themselves and be sure that they’ll get the most value for their money. Dozens of brands are advertised to them daily, so how can a small company draw their attention? One of the best options is turning to influencer marketing.

Influencers are people with a large base of followers and are respected in their niche. Depending on your industry, they can be celebrity influencers (with more than a million followers) or micro-influencers (10-100 thousand followers). They invest a lot of work to create quality content in order to build a large community of their brand advocates.

According to a joint study by Annalect and Twitter, about 40% of participants say that they’ve bought a product online after having it recommended by an influencer. Today, customers tend to trust influencers nearly as much as their peers. Influencer marketing allows you to target a specific audience, it provides you with excellent content, is affordable, and easy to track.

4. Promote content through social campaigns

Paid campaigns are another viable option for boosting your company’s brand awareness through social media networks. Campaigns, such as contests, are used by a growing number of brands for gaining visibility. To encourage user participation and ensure that your social media campaigns offer value to all participants, make sure to provide them with valuable incentives.

5. Track, analyze and learn

Finally, you need to track your social media campaign results, study your analytics, and learn how to improve your promotion efforts. Trial and error are one of the best ways to learn what does and what doesn’t work for you, and there’s plenty of room for that on social media.

 

Social media can be a waste of time if not used properly, but when done the right way, it can greatly benefit your business. It is one of the most powerful and tested ways to attract new leads, give your audience a way to connect with your organization, increase your website traffic, provide valuable insights on your customers, and eventually – help strengthen your brand. An effective social media strategy is not set in stone, and you have to learn how to adapt and evolve in order to leverage social networks to boost your company’s brand awareness.

 

 

My name is Raul, editor in chief at Technivorz blog. I have a lot to say about innovations in all aspects of digital technology and online marketing. You can find me on Twitter and Facebook.

 

Sesame Credit and the Future of Social Credit

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When it comes to bashing countries for poor internet freedom practices, China usually appears near the top of the list – and with good reason. Perhaps in part that’s because, in contrast with more crude filtering systems adopted in many authoritarian states, the Great Firewall is an almost elegant panopticon. The sheer level of surveillance – and capacities for intervening – can look like an early draft of a Black Mirror episode. Take, for example, the ability to effectively remove images deemed unsuitable for the interests of the state ‘mid-air’. Where the Soviets had to make do with erasing people after the fact, Chinese internet censors can do so on a real-time basis.

Sesame Credit seems, in a sense, to be the obvious outcome of this level of monitoring and capacity for intervention. The so-called ‘social credit’ is opaque in its operation, but from what we understand, citizens will be able to ‘earn’ credits by such patriotic activities as pro-government posts on message boards. A higher score will mean greater perks, incentivising citizens to behave as suits the Communist Party of China.

There is something thoroughly Chinese about this – and not in a negative way. In e-commerce, the country outstrips its competitors with home-grown giants like Alibaba. Granted, they have been grown in a sort of incubator, with Western competitors artificially kept out, but they have achieved success on a scale which surely makes even Facebook or Google jealous. The ease of access to functions through all-in-one apps like WeChat is another example of an approach to the internet with a great number of affordances. On the more positive side, the use of something like Sesame Credit shows a continuing move away from paper money. This was the goal of China’s almost as populous neighbour to the West, through the process of demonetisation. Yet India has largely failed in its bid to go digital: in spite of the number of new digital bank accounts created, the majority (owned by the urban poor) are empty, and the rural poor (with no access to the internet) never had them to start with.

This cannot detract from the cost in terms of citizens’ rights to privacy, or freedom of expression. It also opens up a number of worrying scenarios in which a users social credit could be lowered. A drunken error or a joke made at the expense of the government on a relative’s account, for example, might have an impact; more concerningly, a malicious actor could effectively fabricate dissent. There is also the question of automation . How well can the system deal with bots set up to pump out pro-government posts? Will it lead to inflation (at least temporarily, before accounts are presumably removed)? The lack of adequate information on this front makes this largely guesswork, sadly.

Will social credit in the style of Sesame Credit spread from China, is the final question. Many have pointed to pre-existing systems, like the credit scores which are prevalent across the West – and they have a point. Much like Sesame Credit, when it’s rolled out, they can have immense impacts on our lives and are by no means transparent. And yet largely speaking, our behaviour on Facebook or Twitter has no major bearing on these (we hope). The age of the all-in-one app is yet to hit us – but when it does, there’s no reason to assume that social credit would not be its outcome.

The (In)justice of Algorithms

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In 1956, when Philip K. Dick wrote The Minority Report, the internet wasn’t around. In fact, the internet’s forbears wouldn’t appear until the next decade. But whilst the detection of ‘precrime’ in Dick’s short story was through the power of unfortunate mutants, we are rapidly moving into a present where the power of big data and algorithms are to solve crimes. The supposedly cold rationality of computing is supposed to trump our own prejudices.

And yet, it won’t.

The fear of algorithms is not exactly a new topic, but it’s one that only grows more relevant over time. Algorithms decide what news you see on Facebook – which not only pushed out valuable workers, but also doesn’t really fix underlying issues of exclusion and bias. Then there’s the complaints about the exact algorithm which Facebook uses to push different contacts to your newsfeed: another black box, which the company is unlikely to crack. The other social media titan of our time, Twitter, has also quietly pushed algorithms to shape the content we view, including one which is designed to ‘support conversation’ – by listing potentially controversial comments lower in a list replies. When those controversial tweets are often more conservative, it’s unsurprising that the right cries out against media bias (try looking at a statement by Trump, and you’ll often find tweets skewering him for incompetence at the top, in spite of the dates). Uber, which threatened to bring down the cab industry around the world before a series of corporate missteps and outright illegal acts stymied its progress, is built upon the algorithm which routes drivers to passengers, allows for the complexity of UberPool, and keeps drivers on the job longer (for the good for the good of the company). And unseen to all of us are the advertisers who use algorithmic information to work out with which ads to target us to best effect, building up a composite image of our lives. They might not be totally accurate, but they offer a far greater amount of information than any survey did before.

Civilian deployment of algorithms is concerning, but manageable – an inconvenience which can be outwitted with enough time and energy. Search engines like DuckDuckGo can keep you off their radar; as a last ditch measure, there’s always Tor. Admittedly, staying off Facebook and Twitter is toxic for your social life (and for professions like journalists, dangerous for your work life too), but it’s not a matter of life and death.

Unlike, say, an algorithm which US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) wants to bring in, to help with tasks like “determin[ing] and evaluat[ing] an applicant’s probability of becoming a positively contributing member of society as well as their ability to contribute to national interests in order to meet the EOs outlined by the President.” If you thought that having real human beings deciding whether you should be allowed into a country was a worrying thought, imagine outsourcing that to an algorithm.

Assuming that it doesn’t break down – always a big assumption – the real fear lies in the coding behind it. As in the cases described above, algorithms aren’t neutral entities: they reflect the beliefs of their designers. It’s safe to assume that if ICE – an enforcement agency not known for its charitable views on immigrants – is designing something to do their job for them, it’s stance won’t be a liberal one.

And it doesn’t stop there: just as algorithmic job interviews are coming into practice, so is algorithmic sentencing. In theory, it offers redress through the power of big data. In practice, it amplifies the biases we practice everyday, but it gives authorities an excuse for their decisions: ‘computers can’t be wrong’, or so the argument goes.

Unequal Web Access isn’t the ‘Third World’s’ Problem

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Considering the many rights which we routinely see trampled upon in the news today, making the case of access to the internet seems a little frivolous. After all, this the era when millenials are pilloried for avocado toast on Instagram, whilst we’re told by a succession of psychologists and journalists that smartphones are destroying the kiddywinks (an idea that, for the record, is less sound than the moral panic behind it would suggest). Sherry Turkle, one of the great pioneers of ethnography online, has become one of the most vocal critics of the digital and its much vaunted murder of conversation/friendship and so on. Amongst her arguments are that by choosing to disconnect from Facebook and the rest of the usual suspects, we can achieve a higher quality of living.

There’s an assumption here that we’re all equally free to log off or ‘jack out’, to use the old cyberpunk expression – that we live in Turkle’s world of digital dualism, in which you and the cursor on the screen are separable. It rather ignores those whose livelihoods rest upon the connection to the internet: think of an Uber driver deciding to up and disconnect one day. Offline me-time – even if it were better than online me-time – is just not a possibility for many. But perhaps even more distressing is the failure to account for those unable to access the internet – not for playing Angry Birds with neighbours or posting holiday snaps, but for the very real reason of accessing work and the resources for self-betterment.

The image of the internet desert, when its mentioned, is usually in the context of the great undifferentiated ‘Global South’. Think of the massive swathes of rural India, where internet penetration still remains very patchy. And yet in Britain and America, these deserts are shockingly prevalent. Nearly 20 million Americans are locked out of broadband, according to a Motherboard piece from a few months ago: equivalent to nearly a third of the British population. Most of them are also in rural areas, worsening the understandable perception that urban elites don’t really care about the country. And in the UK, the same scenario is played out, albeit on a necessarily smaller scale.

The opportunity to participate in a global tech boom, engage in e-commerce and e-payments, or to even just receive the news about events going on outside of a small community are all undeniably valuable parts of the internet – and the opportunity remains unrealised for so many in the ‘developed world’. The US National Broadband Map (which ran until 2014) paints a sobering picture of this reality: outside of major metropolises, large parts of America remain caught in a largely pre-digital era.

And that maps with work done on news deserts, spaces where local (print) papers, unable to scrape together money from advertisers or from subscriptions, have simply had to close down. Some have been bought out by conglomerates like Gannett, a few have banded together at a local level, but many have already died out (and many more are likely to do so). For rural communities losing the traditional lifeline to news in the form of the small town paper, the failure of broadband providers to support them seems a double-whammy. For a populace to be well-educated on complex political issues, it will take more than platitudes and hand-wringing from urban centres.

What does Siloed Social Media mean for Politics?

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The old adage for dealing with dealing with online abuse was ‘Don’t feed the trolls’ – a statement based on the premise that they could fundamentally dealt with like offline bullies. By refusing to give them the emotional response and the attention which they crave, the argument went, they would get bored and move off (presumably to bother someone else).

But what does refusing to feed them actually look like, on a platform like Twitter – a space in which it’s easy for celebrities and micro-celebrities to weaponise their fame, turning their followers in far larger numbers and with far greater vehemence than in an offline setting? One answer is to block them, although given that it’s easy enough to make a new account and the sheer volume of the attacks , this can be impractical. Another is to put your account as private – or to go even further and quit it outright.

This was the understandable option taken by the targets of Gamergate, the organised campaign which ostensibly fought for ‘ethics in video game journalism’, but which always looked curiously like a reactionary pushback against criticisms of gaming’s often misogynist culture. Later, actress Leslie Jones would be forced to leave Twitter facing down a mob of a similar sort, targeting her for her ethnicity.

More so than getting an emotional response, this has been the goal of the leaders of the harassment campaigns, such as Milo Yiannopoulos, the former Breitbart employee who was finally permanently removed from Twitter following the campaign against Jones. He wouldn’t be the only ‘martyr’ in the eyes of self-proclaimed freedom fighters. In the wake of the Pizzagate conspiracy theory, rumours began circulation on Twitter about child pornography being hosted by the site by a series of accounts (including current alt-right celebrity, Brittany Pettibone). Having already removed a number of far-right accounts after Trump’s surprise victory, Twitter hastily swung into action, apparently partially to protect its own reputation.

It wouldn’t be the only platform to do so: even Reddit, famously defiant in the face of protests against the mixture of hate speech and borderline felonies on some of its threads, has banned a number (including the once popular r/AltRight). And as would later happen with Twitter, users quickly discovered alternative platforms, whose professed love of freedom went deeper. For Reddit there was Voat, which became central to the Pizzagate ‘investigation’, whilst Twitter got Gab (which also offers an opportunity for recording videos for audiences).

On the one hand, the decision for proponents of particularly loathsome ideologies to migrate from the mainstream space is welcome. A study on Reddit’s work shutting down some of the most controversial and repugnant subreddits suggested that rather than spreading the hate around other threads, most of those displaced tended to pipe down without the community support. Of course, it doesn’t take into account those who moved to platforms like Voat, which have tended to be less open to research from the mainstream establishment.

On the other hand, the practice of banning speech is a plaster for broader societal issues – and not a terribly sticky one in the long term. Although protecting users from campaigns of harassment is common decency (not to mention good business sense), pushing those already heading down dark paths to spaces like Voat seems likely to make their beliefs even more radical. A campaign based around punitive action also plays into their rhetoric of an establishment trying to attack them for violating free speech (gleefully ignoring those who have been forced to leave the arena of free speech out of fear).

The crisis of free speech, although so often imagined as a problem brought on by university safe spaces and ‘snowflake’ culture, is as much – if not more so – the result of a particular strain of conservatism mixed with what Adrienne Massanari dubbed a “toxic technoculture”. The result is a persecution complex which sees any debate as part of a broad attempt to stifle free speech, and a willingness to use whatever tactics necessary to attack opponents (see: fake antifa posters).

There is no easy solution to the problem which we face today – one which looks set to widen as the ‘culture wars’ continue. Forcing those with vile opinions onto alternative spaces no longer looks like the solution, as it simply intensifies their feelings of being stiffed. Allowing them to engage in wanton acts of harassment isn’t either, though: it’s time for tech to take a good look at itself and figure out the third way.

Is Facebook a Technology or a Media Company?

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Here’s a transcript of the presentation

Facebook calls itself a technology company

  • Technology companies should not have political leanings nor bias
  • Meanwhile, a media company has a communicative vision and purpose
  • They do have bias
  • This May, Gizmodo revealed Facebook routinely suppressed conservative news stories in the ‘trending’ section of your news feed
  • A former Facebook worker said:
  • “Workers prevented stories about the right wing CPAC gathering, Mitt Romney, Rand Paul and other conservative topics from appearing in the highly-influential section, even thought they were organically trending among the site’s users”

If Facebook workers tamper with a news feed then your new feed is biased

  • Meanwhile Facebook claims their trending topics are simply popular articles shared around the world

Why should you care?

  • A reader of traditional media can educated themselves about hte biases associated with that content
  • A readwe has no idea how to interpret the articles they read on Facebook
  • Which gives Facebook enormous influential power in how we think

Why should we worry?

  • 1 billion people log onto Facebook every day
  • 60% Americans get their news direct from Facebook
  • With a huge audience – Facebook gets a lot of money from advertisers
  • Which should be going to the publishers
  • News outlets and publishers are closing around the world because they can’t make any money

Could this be the end of an independent, open and varied web?

Content curation for social media with Cronycle

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curate content for social media

If you’re like a lot of social media marketers, you will spend a lot of time searching for content to post on social media. This is often referred to as ‘content curation‘ and we’ve spoken to marketers who spend up to a day a week finding useful content to post on their networks.

As Neil Patel points out on the QuickSprout blog – curated content on social media account for 47% of all clicks, and given it’s much more time-efficient to curate content produced by other people, than create new content again and again, it’s well worth the time investment to share curated content on social media channels.

But as Neil Patel writes in another blog for Buffer:

“Even though social media tools do the posting for you, they don’t find the content to post. This is your job.”

[quoter color=”aqua”]Even though social media tools do the posting for you, they don’t find the content to post. This is your job.[/quoter]

But what if I told you there is a platform which finds the content to post. What if I told you that you could create your own personalised news feed which goes out to the trusted sources you respect, and delivers interesting articles according to keywords you put together.

How does that sound? Pretty exciting I expect.

A complete platform to curate content for social media

Neil Patel suggests spending half an hour searching for content on various networks.

  • 5 minutes searching for content on Twitter
  • 5 minutes searching for content on Facebook
  • 5 minutes searching for content on LinkedIn
  • 5 minutes searching for content on Google News
  • 10 minutes searching through niche blogs and websites

He then suggests copying all those links and quotes into a document and warns against getting distracted.

I’m suggesting you spend 10 minutes scanning one personalised news feed, automatically posting those links into a board which is attached to the same platform, and given it’s all self-contained, there is no way you can get distracted by click bait articles.

[quoter color=”plum”]I’m suggesting you spend 10 minutes scanning one personalised news feed, automatically posting those links into a board which is attached to the same platform, and given it’s all self-contained, there is no way you can get distracted by click bait articles.[/quoter]

Ok – but you’ve been promised personalised news feeds before. And they get way too much to handle because you are completely inundated with content which you can’t control. So you’ve given up with your personalised news feed.

Cronycle doesn’t just aggregate content together in one place. Cronycle offers you powerful filtering to make sure you’re only served articles which contain keywords that come from your specified sources. This ensures you get a limited number of very relevant articles a day.

[quoter color=”flamingo”]This ensures you get a limited number of very relevant articles a day[/quoter]

A platform to save articles to post for later

A completely customised news feed is great. But when something is running off an algorithm, you want to make sure you are only posting the best articles from that news feed. You need a ‘holding area’ of some description where you can annotate those articles so you know what you may say on each social media platform. This is what Neil Patel was using as an open document – a place to house the best links you’ve curated.

In that holding area, it would be useful if you could post articles which didn’t just come from the personalised news feeds. It would be useful if you could hold articles which you find whilst browsing the web, either on your desktop or on mobile, so you can review which posts you’re going to send out before sending them direct to your scheduler.

You could finally be in control of curating posts to share on social media – and it could take you just 10 minutes a day.

[quoter color=”honey”]You could finally be in control of curating posts to share on social media – and it could take you just 10 minutes a day[/quoter]

Start with Cronycle today

digital content summit

Cronycle does exactly that. Cronycle provides you with a customisable news feed which takes sources you trust and filters them using key words which you provide. Cronycle then has a dedicated annotation space we call a board, where you can pin relevant articles to discuss with your team (if you like) before shipping them out to a scheduling tool.

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How to create a workflow which is optimised for social media on Cronycle in eight easy steps

  1. Start by signing up to Cronycle. You’ll be given the option to use a select list of Cronycle sources to start a ‘trusted library’. If you don’t already use a news aggregator or twitter to search for articles then this is the best option. If you already have a curated list of trusted sources which you search through then take the other option.
  2. Join your Twitter account to Cronycle to see all the articles the people you follow post through Cronycle
  3. Download the Content Clipper for Chrome or Safari. Whilst you’re browsing the niche sites which you check for interesting content, check to see if they have a relevant RSS source and add that to Cronycle.
  4. Add Google Alerts to Cronycle – so instead of searching Google News, go to Google Alerts. Type in the keywords you usually search in Google News and make sure you get the RSS feed. Add this to Cronycle. More info here.
  5. Hit ‘Create New Collection’ – type in a list of keywords which you would like to be present in the articles in order for them to be relevant for your social media channels. More on this here.
  6. Create a new board and entitle it ‘SocialMediaPosts’ or ‘TwitterPosts’ or ‘FacebookPosts’ – it’s up to you how you organise your Cronycle.
  7. Add articles to the relevant boards as they appear in your news feeds or using the Content Clipper on your browser or mobile device
  8. When you’ve established it’s a good article for social, then hit the three dots and click ‘share on social media’. You can either take the link to post on your scheduler, or post them right away.

And there’s a quick and easy way to curate content for social media.

Don’t just take our word for it…

curate content for social media

This is just one application of using Cronycle. We are also used to curate articles for blog posts, for internal knowledge, and some financial analysts use us to keep up to date with oil prices. But this is a great application for marketers and social media managers and a lot of people are having a huge amount of success with it.

The Cronycle Standard Account

We’ve mentioned a Standard Account. The Standard Account allows you to further personalised your news feeds by adding bespoke sources to your library. It’s incredible value for the amount of time you save. Check out our pricing here.

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Learn more from Cronycle:

Become an expert content creator

How to create unique research-based content 

How to build the perfect source library

What’s all the fuss about content filtering?

Reading Time: 4 minutes

RSS Reader

A colleague of mine asked me this question a while ago when we were discussing the problem of the facebook algorithm. Here’s how it works: facebook shows you the news that it thinks you’re most likely to interact with. After all, if your second cousin posts endless pictures of things you’re not interested in, it makes sense for facebook to dial back on his updates and dial in some more interesting content from your sister, who posts news articles that keep you informed.

The problem is that, although this sounds fine in principle, in practise it creates a very different environment to the one you would expect. Often news is dialed back to make way for easy ‘clickbait’ type content, or videos are prioritised because they’re more engaging.

So, a computer decides what you get to see and what it will hide. And computers – while they can be incredibly smart – are not always going to make the same decisions as humans.

Over on GigaOm this week, Matthew Ingrams discussed the merits of Twitter vs facebook as a source for news. In the wake of the shocking incidents in Ferguson, Missouri, some people were surprised to see facebook almost completely devoid of news. Twitter was filled with live updates, eye-witness reports, photos and videos of events as they unfolded. Facebook: almost nothing. Why so different? While Facebook has a filtering algorithm constantly trying to guess what you’ll respond to, Twitter shows you everything from the people you follow, so you’re going to receive all the updates from people you follow in your timeline, whether you’re likely to retweet them or not. While Facebook is trying to be your personal shopper, hand-picking items it knows you’ll like, Twitter shows you all of the products in the shop.

The Twitter model is great, for a while, and gets around this initial problem of algorithmic filtering. Unfortunately, because you see everything, it can be incredibly difficult to keep track. We humans are, and always have been, fans of filtering and sorting. Even before the internet age, when we were bombarded with data from all sides, we’d rarely seek out everything – choosing instead to curate our sources (by buying a specific newspaper, or watching a particular news channel, for instance). To continue the shopping analogy, Twitter gives you the option of seeing every product, but there are so many on such a fast-moving conveyor belt you barely have time to examine something before twenty other things have gone whizzing past.

Can there be a balance? Well, there are a couple of possible ways to solve this problem. Method one – the one which facebook is trying is to simply make automated filtering better. Facebook tries to improve the algorithms so that they don’t get too one-sided, or churn out too much similar content – their priority is to keep you on the site and get you using it a lot, so ultimately if their algorithm is stopping you from doing that they’ll improve it. Twitter is also tweaking what shows up automatically on the timeline – recent changes to how ‘favourites’ are displayed have met with opposition from users, but it’s one of many experiments to try and make Twitter feel like a more  ‘usable’ place. To engage new users, Twitter is trying to introduce a form of content curation that makes it easier for people to find what they love.

Will either of these techniques work? Possibly. But one of the reasons we started Cronycle is that we think there’s a better option. Not better algorithmic filtering – because it will ultimately always run into the ‘machine’ problem – but applying a layer of human curation to the deluge of content.

Human curation is the solution to algorithmic content filtering

Cronycle takes all of your sources (the RSS feeds you subscribe to, the Twitter accounts you follow) and indexes all of the important content (anything that includes a link or image is pulled through). You can then filter and curate those posts into a collection based on criteria you choose – you can add a filter for the latest breaking news story, for example, filtering in only content from the news teams you really trust. You could have a different collection for updates on a particular area of industry, which gathers articles from expert sources that you’ve chosen yourself.

There’s a certain amount of machine help here, for sure – you’re not creating your own newspaper. Cronycle is useful because it helps you cut through the noise, and prevents you having to scroll through reams of irrelevant content just to get updates on the latest news story or blog post. But the key difference between Cronycle and any algorithmic filtering system is that you won’t run into the ‘facebook problem’ – machines pushing you content based on simplistic models of your behaviour. You choose the sources, you set the filters, and Cronycle indexes that content. Unlike facebook, it won’t ever second guess you.

Published on 21.08.2014 by Marina Cheale

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What’s the future of RSS?

Reading Time: 2 minutes

In the wake of Google Reader and the midst of social media’s reign, the RSS feed chugs along

RSS allows publishers to syndicate information automatically, to deliver content right to users’ fingertips.  They no longer have to check their favorite sites to see if new content has been published—technology does it for them.  But these days, that convenience is commonplace.   Social media enables an even larger audience not only to receive content from the sites that interest them, but to become publishers themselves.  Although few are questioning that RSS has a space in the digital content consumption marketplace, many contend that the space may be shrinking—a theory bolstered by the demise of Google Reader.

Google retired its service, which was the most popular RSS reader, on July 1, 2013, explaining, “While the product has a loyal following, over the years usage has declined.”  (However, many believe this decision had more to do with office politics and Google’s plans for its own social network, Google+.)  A host of worthwhile services, including This Old Reader, Feedly and Flipboard, were ready to take in the millions of Google transplants, but although RSS still has a fierce and loyal following, social media is proving a sufficient alternative for the average user.

“We definitely see more publishers using the option for social networks versus the option for RSS,” notes Bruce Ableson, vice president of client solutions at LiveFyre, a tech company that offers a suite of real-time products that allow users to curate content from various sources and host in one place.  “We still use RSS Feeds all the time, though, especially at the smaller publisher level,” he says.

Although there’s still a huge need for RSS, Ableson notes that publishers seem more incentivized to drive readers to follow them on social networks than to subscribe to their RSS feeds.

“It’s perfectly possible that for many, social media is the new RSS,” says Rob Hicks, founder and chief data scientist of Bright North.   “RSS was all about putting alerts in one place, which is exactly what Twitter does because most media sites have at least added, if not replaced, their RSS with Tweets.”

The problem is, there is a lot of noise to get through.  Twitter isn’t only about signifying a new piece of quality content.  It’s a hodgepodge of hashtags and interactions, making it difficult for users to quickly identify what’s worth reading.  “It makes sense that brands and publishers have embraced Twitter, but whether it does as an effective job as a good RSS consuming platform is another story.  I don’t think it does,” Hicks opines.

What Twitter does do well, of course, is the social aspect.  “Social networks give people the ability to recommend stuff and become pseudo-publishers even if they haven’t written the content they’re sharing.  I might follow someone because they are excellent curators,” says Hicks.  “It adds a new level of curation which you could argue is more valuable than the original RSS thing was in the first place.  I’m not sure I would agree, but I see the argument.”