Gaming the system

Gaming the system

You may have heard that recently Facebook changed its algorithms (yet again) to favour conversations amongst friends. On January 11, 2018, Mark Zuckerberg stated that the focus will be

“…to help people stay connected and bring us closer together with the people that matter to us.”

That’s great after all many of us use Facebook exactly for that reason – to be able to stay connected with friends and family. However, what this means, practically-speaking, is that items that generate conversation will be preferentially boosted in your Facebook feed, while items that were merely “liked” or “shared” become less important.

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I personally have already noticed a decrease in the number of funny jokes or memes showing up in my feed – which is (was) my favourite part of Facebook. So those items that may not be generating conversation per se don’t show up. I cannot speak for you, but I “like” a lot of posts when I don’t necessarily have anything to say – or if it’s a topic that I need to think about before I can put my thoughts down into words. Just because I don’t comment on them right away doesn’t mean that I’m not weighing the information and starting a conversation later.

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via Buzzfeed

By slowly removing those kinds of posts from my Facebook feed, I fear that I’m going to lose the serendipitous exposure to jokes or world events that aren’t already being talked about by my circle of friends. I think this extra-tailored feed will result in even more echo-chambering and insularity of perspective.

So what can we do to game the system around these algorithm changes? Some suggestions for how a university or business can try to increase their exposure has cropped up from a number of sources. But many of them are also applicable to how each of us personally can try to keep serendipitous news and a larger world-view showing up in our feeds;

  • ask your audience to reminisce or reflect on your favourite experiences
  • take part in trending topics – the recent snowmageddon here in Victoria is a prime example ☃️
  • ask your followers to share their photos/videos
  • ask for suggestions to name something (though beware you could have a Boaty McBoatface on your hands)
  • step up your Facebook Live game since the algorithms favour its use
  • avoid engagement-bait traps
  • ask your Page followers to set their newsfeed preferences to “See [your content] First”
  • increase your ad budget since organic reach for businesses will decline
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Only time will tell if these suggestions for gaming the Facebook algorithms will actually be effective. But it’s safe to say that Mark Zuckerberg will shake things up once we get comfortable again.

What is a post-text world?

What is a post-text world?

Have you heard that videos are the wave of the future? According to the New York Times, we are now in a post-text world, meaning as Internet users we’re transitioning to visual multi-media. This doesn’t really mean that it’s the end of text per se, but that visual content needs to be more engaging, and be produced as stand-alone products.

We all have the ability to produce our own movies now thanks to that supercomputer in your pocket. And many social media platforms allow for live broadcasts (like Facebook Live, Instagram, Periscope), and archive your broadcasts for viewing later (like a built-in YouTube within each platform). It’s all pretty amazing when you think back to where we were just 50 years ago…

Those fifty years ago saw a huge change in our media usage. It inspired communications scholars like Marshall McLuhan who researched the effects of the media on culture. When he famously pondered “the medium is the message” he had only seen the rise of television culture. Had he been around to see the rise of the Internet, and all the forms of social media that have since arisen, I think even Marshall may have been speechless.

Thankfully, The Vestibules have written The Ballad of Marshall McLuhan for you and produced this video so you don’t have to read this blog any further.

Who do you trust?

Who do you trust?

This is a world now teeming with #FakeNews thanks to a politician who shall remain nameless.

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But at the same time, the majority of people still use social media as a news source.

So then who do you trust?

A recent analysis, called the 2018 Edelman Trust Barometer indicates that the credibility of a source is once again related to their knowledgeability. In other words, technical and academic experts are considered more credible than celebrities… Which is good given that some celebrities are shilling putting rocks up your vagina (just don’t), spreading anti-vaccination propaganda, and promoting absurd beliefs like the earth is flat.

Though social media is used for news acquisition, another piece of good news is that trust in journalism is increasing. Social media has a lot of potential for getting immediate and breaking news, but misinformation is also rampant. Just take for example misinformation that spread across social media during the Boston marathon bombing. Frankly, it begs the question who would actually want to misinform people during a crisis or emergency, but it happens frequently enough that people are starting to value journalistic habits of fact checking again.

So the good news is that people want to give voice to credible sources – the academics, the technical experts, the journalists – and that more and more of us are putting our trust behind those experts. If you’re not sure who a credible and trustworthy source is, you should consider things like transparency (like links to sources), expertise (not just for a quote, but of the author too), and the motivation behind the info (partisan or not).

Matthew

If you’d like to learn more about trustworthy sources, and how to assess credibility, we recommend the following resources:

Let’s all stop the spread of misinformation, and use the power of social media for good!

A picture is worth a thousand words

A picture is worth a thousand words

We’ve all heard the saying “a picture is worth a thousand words.” It’s one of those English language idioms that’s hard to attribute to a specific person, but seems to be mostly attributed to Fred Barnard in the 1920s. But so what if you’ve heard that phrase? Why should you care?

Well, there is quite a lot of research on social media that shows that you really should include a visual when you post something. Pictures help with our recall as typical info retention is only 10% three days later, but if you saw it with a photo you’ll retention will be 65% instead. But it’s not just a matter of information retention. Presentations with photos are 43 % more persuasive than those without, and articles with images get 94% more total views. Why is that? It’s because visual content is both an efficient way to transmit information and evokes an emotional reaction in your audience.

Associating information with an emotional trigger helps to increase shares on social media. For example, tweets with photos have been shown to be retweeted 35% more than those without photos. Why does this matter? It matters because social media posts that get more likes, shares, and retweets get out to a wider audience than those that already follow you. In fact, any interaction with your posts will increase your reach – comments by friends show up in Facebook feeds for example – bringing your message to the friends of your friends. In a Six Degrees of Separation world, this is the best way to leverage the social part of social media.

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Six Degrees of Separation, or perhaps our favourite game of Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon

So, the next time you share an update on your platforms, be sure to include an image to inspire greater engagement and brand recall with your network.

But remember, choose photos that have a Creative Commons Zero (CC0) license. This means the pictures are completely free to be used for any legal purpose. Otherwise, be sure to follow the guidelines of each license and credit the creator of the work you’re borrowing.

Here are the best 7 sites for free images in 2018:

The media mavens are off!

The media mavens are off!

We’re both on social media a lot. Our families might say it’s a bit too much, but we do get off our devices occasionally. In fact, we both met in grad school parlaying that interest in social media into a Masters degree.

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With our degrees successfully behind us, we’ve started applying all the research we’ve done in the field of new media to help raise audience engagement in our respective fields; Alina in science communications and conservation, Erin in teaching and learning in HigherEd. And we’re seeing results!

And so we’ve paired up officially to share our expertise as social media mavens with you! Mavens Media is here to help you put the social into your media. Contact us to chat about how we can help you reach your goals.