Automating posts on Facebook hurts engagement

Vadim Lavrusik has some excellent advice about being authentic on social media:

Tip of the Day for Journalists: Posts published through automated feeds (RSS, other platforms, etc.) get 2-3x less engagement than posts published manually with an authentic voice (as a teaser for the link).

People know when you’re not listening. They’re going to be less likely to contribute their thoughts on something when they think they’re talking to a wall.

Authenticity matters.

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Episode 14: The Facebook profiles they are a-changin’

Jeremy and I dedicate this entire episode to the changes hitting Facebook.

What do we like? What don’t we like? How do we think people will react?

Jeremy is concerned about how older users (a big growth area) will react to the changes. Some of the changes are admittedly rather big. But change is how Facebook got to the top in the first place.

We’re fans of subscriptions, and we think this feature is a response to Google+.

Timeline is a beautiful and striking reimagining of the Facebook profile, but will it be too drastic for some users? We would love to hear your feedback.

I mean this in all honestly, this is our best episode yet.

 Listen to this week’s show:

[podcast]http://interchangeproject.podbean.com/mf/web/svmzsn/episode14.mp3[/podcast]

Show notes:


It’s one thing to use social media as a candidate, another as a president

President Obama was lauded for his innovative use of the Internet and social media running up the 2008 Presidential Election. But it’s one thing to use social media to market yourself as a political candidate and another to use it to market yourself as the president of the United States:

Obama for America, the official campaign organization, recently rolled out AttackWatch.com. The website allows visitors to file reports when someone criticizes the president or his policies and purports to provide “the facts” to counter such “smears.” The site’s Twitter feed is attracting plenty of reports, but not necessarily the kind that campaign staff was expecting.

A user identified as Jon G. announced: “There’s a new Twitter account making President Obama look like a creepy, authoritarian nutjob: @AttackWatch.” Another user identifying himself as Matt Cover tweeted, “Someone told me the stimulus didn’t keep unemployment below 8%. That’s not true, is it?”

Another concerned citizen reported, “I saw 6 ATM’s in an alley, killing a job. It looked like a hate crime!” The site’s Twitter page recently featured so many zingers aimed at the president that it was hard to find actual Obama supporters whining about his critics. One tweeter noted that “the GOP won seats in NY and NV . . . I suspect interference by sane people . . . check that out please.” Another said, “Hey kids, are mommy and daddy talking bad about Obama? Be sure to report them at #attackwatch.”

I’m not surprised that this is falling apart. Social media would be much better used for positive, affirmational messages. It would also be better used if it were about connecting the president and his staff to actual people.

As a social media manager, I cannot recommend this strategy.


Mashable: Facebook Timeline makes profiles more personal

Mashable’s Ben Parr likes the new Facebook Timeline profiles, which are a radical change from the current profiles on Facebook:

The new Timeline interface is beautiful and a major time sink. However, this is clearly not a finished product. The social network must do more to clean up actions on the Timeline and avoid the “getting married twice” problem.

Overall though, Facebook has made profiles more personal. Users are going to be spending hours in their friends’ Timelines.


Thoughts on the Netflix split (and about Qwikster)

Today Netflix split into two separate companies — Netflix for streaming and Qwikster for DVDs through the mail.

This won’t just be two separate names, but will also involve users going to two different websites and managing two separate queues. It’s a big decision, and one that frankly will probably have a rough go for awhile. Below are some of my early thoughts on it.

Netflix CEO Reed Hastings had a lot to say about this decision, including his fears that Netflix wouldn’t make the digital jump:

For the past five years, my greatest fear at Netflix has been that we wouldn’t make the leap from success in DVDs to success in streaming. Most companies that are great at something – like AOL dialup or Borders bookstores – do not become great at new things people want (streaming for us) because they are afraid to hurt their initial business. Eventually these companies realize their error of not focusing enough on the new thing, and then the company fights desperately and hopelessly to recover. Companies rarely die from moving too fast, and they frequently die from moving too slowly.

This was bound to happen — Whether people want to admit it or not, Netflix wants to get out of the DVD business. They also want the studios to offer them more access to movies and TV shows for streaming.  The DVD business is holding that back, while also masking how many streaming subscribers that Netflix has. Netflix has almost as many streaming subscribers as Comcast has customers. Netflix wants to hammer that home to rights holders. Netflix needs to convince studios this is because people love streaming, not because they love getting plastic discs in the mail. This divorce had to happen, otherwise the studios could argue that Netflix users really want the DVDs and view the streaming as just a nice add on. The numbers say otherwise; 10 million people are streaming only subscribers, while only three million are DVD only. The other 12 receive both.

What’s with that name? — I don’t get the name at all, and I don’t get why it has nothing to do with the business at all. Netflix was a great name from the beginning and one that showed how prescient Reed Hastings was. Reed always knew that Netflix would be about the Internet, and even when the company had a DVD-only beginning, he knew that a name like Netflix would make sense. It’s movies. It’s over the net. It’s Netflix. The only thing I can think of with Qwikster is that Netflix didn’t want anything that remotely confused customers — Mailflix, for instance — and they also don’t see this as a long-term business. If they only see Qwikster as a bridge business for a few years, how much does the name really matter?

Social media is important — Would you really name a company without securing the social media accounts first? I wouldn’t. Netflix apparently would. On Twitter at least, Qwikster is a pot-smoking parody of Elmo. Fantastic. I don’t get why this mistake was made. Does Netflix just really not care about Qwikster more than the bare minimum that they have too?

Streaming is the future — This is what people have to get. DVD subscribers to Netflix have peaked. It’s all going to be downsizing from here on out. Netflix is doing this to force people to move to that future. Trust me, you want streaming. Plastic discs suck.

Is their a future for DVDs in the mail, anyway? — The Post Office is facing major issues right now, including discussing cutting a few days of deliver. President Obama has even endorsed the idea. Netflix is utterly dependent on the Post Office for delivering DVDs in a timely fashion for cheap. Imagine no Saturday delivery. Imagine delivery only three days a week. It’s too expensive to deliver DVDs via UPS or FedEx. Would you really want to bet the future of your business on the Post Office? Netflix doesn’t. And frankly, I don’t know how strong a future DVDs in the mail would for any company, with or without streaming.

This isn’t Netflix’s fault — Well, yes, the poor way they handled this is, but Netflix wants to offer more streaming movies. They’d love to offer every movie and TV show. The studios are holding on to the past and don’t like streaming, mostly because they love it when you buy an entire movie, even when you’ll only watch it once. Netflix is doing this to force their hand. If you give up on Netflix or one of its competitors, you’re giving into the studios and their retrograde way of viewing things. They care about legacy profits, not what users want. I never root for people who don’t care about what users want. Netflix does, unfortunately things may get worse before they get better.

If one website is good, are two great? — I don’t get the two different websites thing. Yes, they are different companies, and, yes, Netflix wants to hammer that home. But people don’t want two queues. They really, really don’t want to have to rate movies twice. Netflix needs to do an API that allows for reviews and ratings to at least be transferable between the two websites. If not, this is a big usability fail. That would be very unfortunate and unfair to users.

Qwikster won’t be around long — Either Qwikster will be shut down in five years or it will be sold. The name is not related to Netflix at all. It will have a separate website that as far as we can tell won’t integrate with Netflix. Netflix wants to get completely out of the DVD business too. In addition, Netflix cared so little about this move that the choose a name that was a pot-smoking muppet parody on Twitter.

I’ve already gone streaming only — I want everything to be streaming. The only way to get to a world where everything is available to stream in HD is for the market to speak. I’m done with plastic discs. I suggest you do the same.


Episode 13: Your password sucks. No really, it does. And it endangers us all.

This week we talk about password security and how having one password for everything — no matter how secure you think it is — is a very bad idea.

If one website where you have an account is comprised, hackers could have access to your username, email and password. They will then try those same combinations on countless websites, particularly financial websites.

So, yes, your email password matters. That password you have on that random forum matters. They all matter.

That leads us to discuss 1Password, which allows you to remember one password on your computer that can unlock unique passwords on every website you join. Password managers are your best way to stay safe on the Internet.

Then we discuss the rumored Kindle tablet, which we’re all pretty sure is going to happen this fall. But we think it may be going more after the Nook Color than the iPad.

Listen to this week’s show:

[podcast]http://interchangeproject.podbean.com/mf/web/qh8nq3/episoder13.mp3[/podcast]


About half of bitly clicks on Twitter and Facebook happen within 3 hours

The bitly blog has some interesting tidbits on how long people will pay attention to that link you just shared:

So we looked at the half life of 1,000 popular bitly links and the results were surprisingly similar. The mean half life of a link on twitter is 2.8 hours, on facebook it’s 3.2 hours and via ‘direct’ sources (like email or IM clients) it’s 3.4 hours. So you can expect, on average, an extra 24 minutes of attention if you post on facebook than if you post on twitter.