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Should Congress Investigate Big Tech Platforms?

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Should Congress Investigate Big Tech Platforms?

This week, the House Energy and Commerce Committee will hold a full committee Hören with TikTok CEO Shou Chew to discuss how the platform handles users’ data, its effect on kids, and its relationship with ByteDance, its Chinese parent company.

This hearing is part of an ongoing investigation to determine whether TikTok should be banned in the United States or forced to split from ByteDance.

A ban on TikTok would affect over 150 million Americans who use TikTok for education, entertainment, and income generation.

It would also affect the five million U.S. businesses using TikTok to reach customers.

Is TikTok The Only Risk To National Security?

According to a memo released by the Tech Oversight Project, TikTok is not the only tech platform that poses risks to national security, mental health, and children.

As Congress scrutinizes TikTok, the Tech Oversight Project also strongly urges an investigation of risks posed by tech companies like Amazon, Apple, Meta, and Google.

These platforms have a documented history of serving content harmful to younger audiences and adversarial to U.S. interests. They have also failed on many occasions to protect users’ private data.

Many Big Tech companies have seen TikTok’s success and tried to emulate some of its features to encourage users to spend as much time within their platforms’ ecosystems as possible. Academics, activists, non-governmental organizations, and others have long raised concerns about these platforms’ risks.

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To truly reduce Big Rech’s risks to our society, Congress must look beyond TikTok and hold other companies accountable for the same dangers they pose to national security, mental health, and private data.

Risks Posed By Big Tech Companies

The following are examples of the risks Big Tech companies pose to U.S. users.

Amazon

Amazon has made several controversial moves, including a partnership with a state propaganda agency to launch a China books portal and offering AWS services to Chinese companies, including a banned surveillance firm with ties to the military.

Apple

Independent Forschung found that Apple collects detailed information about its users, even when users choose not to allow tracking by apps from the App Store. Over half of the top 200 suppliers for Apple operate factories in China.

Google

The FTC fined Google and YouTube $170 million for collecting children’s data without parental consent. YouTube also changed its algorithm to make it more addictive, increasing users’ time watching videos and consuming ads.

Meta

Facebook allowed Cambridge Analytica to harvest the private data of over 50 million users. It also failed to notify over 530 million users of a data breach that resulted in users’ private data being stolen.

It also allowed Russian interference in the 2016 elections. The influence operation posed as an independent news organization with 13 accounts and two pages, pushing messages critical of right-wing voices and the center-left.

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Tick Tack 

TikTok employees confirmed that its Chinese parent company, ByteDance, is involved in decision-making and has access to TikTok’s user data. While testifying before the Senate Homeland Security Committee, Vanessa Pappas, TikTok COO, would not confirm whether ByteDance would give TikTok user data to the Chinese government.

Abschluss

While the dangers posed by TikTok are undeniable, it’s clear that Congress should also address the risks posed throughout the tech industry. By holding all major offenders accountable, we can create a safe, secure, and responsible digital landscape for everyone.


Featured Image: Koshiro K/Shutterstock



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What You Need To Know In 2023

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What You Need To Know In 2023

In a recent interview, Rene Ritchie, YouTube’s creator liaison, sat down with Todd Beaupre, YouTube’s growth and discovery lead, to discuss the algorithm’s future and its implications for creators in 2023.

Beaupre shares many insights that can help content creators understand and navigate YouTube.

This candid Q&A uncovers vital details, such as:

  • The importance of focusing on audience satisfaction over algorithmic manipulation.
  • The role of audience feedback and survey responses in refining YouTube’s recommendation system.
  • Strategies for creators to build long-term relationships with their audiences for sustained success.
  • YouTube’s dedicated efforts to support new or smaller creators.
  • Advice on managing multi-format, multi-language content and the advantages of channel experimentation.
  • The future of content discovery on YouTube, including the potential of emerging technologies and user interface enhancements.

This article overviews their enlightening conversation, with all the details on optimizing your YouTube content in 2023.

From Algorithm To Audience: A New Perspective

Q: What’s the main thing creators should focus on for the YouTube algorithm?

Beaupre emphasizes the importance of not thinking about algorithms but audiences. Creators are often asked about the best time or frequency to upload videos to optimize algorithm favorability.

Beaupre encourages a shift in perspective:

“Creators often ask about optimizing their upload time or frequency for the algorithm. But we want creators to shift their thinking. Rather than focusing on the algorithm, they should focus on the audience. Replace the word “algorithm” in their questions with the word “audience.” We design the algorithm to serve the audience, so understanding audience preferences will help the algorithm favor their content.”

The Satisfaction Metric: A Holistic View Of Engagement

Q: Can you explain the significance of the satisfaction metric in the YouTube algorithm?

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Beaupre addresses an essential aspect of YouTube’s algorithm: audience satisfaction.

While watch time is a commonly known factor the algorithm considers, Beaupre says that not all watch time is equal:

“Everyone knows that watch time is one of the factors we look at. But we’ve realized that not all watch time is equal. We also need to understand the value an audience derives from a video. To do this, we run surveys about recommendations and specific videos, feeding those responses into the recommendation system. This helps the algorithm identify patterns of satisfying content, looking at various signals like likes, dislikes, watch time, and survey responses.”

A Long-term Strategy: The Key To Creator Success

Q: What kind of strategy should creators adopt for success on YouTube?

Beaupre says creators who prioritize long-term audience value over immediate views stand to benefit more long-term.

He explains that a video’s potential to leave a lasting impression and foster a long-term relationship with the audience would correlate well with satisfaction.

“I would advise creators to think about the long-term value for their audience. Rather than focusing on getting a lot of views in a week, think about creating a lasting impression with your audience. This could mean they’ll want to return to your channel in the future.”

Supporting Smaller Channels

Q: How does YouTube support new or smaller creators who don’t have a large audience?

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For creators with smaller audiences, Beaupre reveals that YouTube has a team focused on helping them identify their audience, using various approaches like assessing video titles and descriptions.

“We have a team that focuses on this exact challenge. They use different approaches, like assessing video titles and descriptions, to help these creators identify their audience. We track the success of new creators on the platform, and we’re committed to helping them succeed.”

Multi-format, Multi-language Content:

Q: How should creators manage their channels with the rise of multi-format, multi-language content?

Beaupre touches on the evolving content landscape, including long-form videos, Live, Shorts, and podcasts.

His advice to creators navigating this space is:

“My advice to creators is simple: “Same audience, same channel, different audience, different channel.” We’re looking for ways to make it easier for creators to manage their channels in this multi-format, multi-language world. We encourage creators to experiment with different formats on the same channel and see how their audience reacts.”

The Future Of Discovery On YouTube

Q: What’s the future of discovery on YouTube?

Speaking about the challenges and opportunities ahead, Beaupre highlights several focus areas.

These include leveraging emerging technology, such as large language models, and making the discovery experience more enjoyable.

“We have several areas of focus. We’re excited about emerging technology like large language models, which could improve recommendation quality. We’re also working on enabling seamless user journeys across various formats. Another challenge is to make the discovery experience more enjoyable for users. We’re exploring opportunities to make the interface more entertaining and less overwhelming.”

Final Words

Beaupre signs off with the message that YouTube’s algorithm prioritizes the audience’s satisfaction.

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By creating long-term value for your audience, understanding their needs, and experimenting with different formats, you can better align with the platform’s goals and succeed.


Quelle: Youtube

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TikTok Dominates Short-Form Content, Instagram Reels Not Far Behind

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TikTok Dominates Short-Form Content, Instagram Reels Not Far Behind

Three platforms dominate short-form video content: TikTok, Instagram Reels, and YouTube Shorts.

A recent study conducted by Social Insider dives into the performance stats of these platforms, analyzing key metrics to determine which comes out on top.

In this article, we’ll examine these key insights:

  • TikTok holds the crown for the most engagement.
  • Comments pour in twice as much on TikTok as on Instagram Reels and YouTube Shorts.
  • Brands post twice as much content on TikTok as on Instagram Reels and YouTube Shorts.
  • Instagram Reels leads the highest watch rate, while YouTube Shorts lags.
  • Each platform’s algorithm plays a role in how content performs.
  • Each platform caters to specific audiences and marketing objectives.

Keep reading as we unpack these findings and explore what they mean for users and marketers alike.

TikTok Reigns Supreme In Engagement

TikTok, widely recognized as the forerunner of the short-form video trend, claims the engagement rate crown.

The study finds TikTok outperforms Instagram Reels and YouTube Shorts in interaction, scoring double the comments of its competitors.

“From an engagement rate perspective, in this TikTok vs. Reels vs. Shorts performance comparison, TikTok sets itself apart as the undisputable winner,” the study notes.

The study compares engagement rates, revealing that YouTube Shorts averages around 3.80%, Reels hits an average of 4.36%, and TikTok boasts a significantly higher rate of 5.53%.

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The Power Of TikTok’s Virality

TikTok’s success is partly due to users’ ability to harness viral trends, enabling explosive follower growth.

The study mentions that a social media strategy focusing on authenticity and humanized approaches can lead to rapid success.

Brands post twice as much content on TikTok as they do on Reels and Shorts, further emphasizing TikTok’s dominance in this space.

Reels & Shorts: Not To Be Overlooked

While TikTok may lead in engagement and content volume, Instagram’s Reels and YouTube’s Shorts have their strengths.

Reels, for instance, records the highest watch rate among the three platforms.

This could be credited to Instagram’s follower-based model, with Reels serving as a potent content type for brands with a large audience.

On the other hand, YouTube Shorts functions more as a discovery tool.

Most Shorts’ views originate from the homepage. From there, YouTube starts recommending long-form content.

This recommendation system can increase a channel’s subscribers, views, and traction on long-form videos.

A Multifaceted Approach for Marketers

Given each platform’s different strengths and audiences, the study suggests a diversified approach for brands.

“Using TikTok, Reels, and Shorts complementarily and creating unique content for each, aligned with the individual’s platform audience and design, is the best approach marketers and brands alike could have,” the study concludes.

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Ultimately, TikTok leads in engagement and content volume, Instagram’s Reels has the highest watch rate, and YouTube’s Shorts is the most effective discovery tool.

Each platform has a unique role in the short-form video landscape. The key for brands and marketers is understanding these roles and crafting strategies around them.


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20+ Blogging Tools to Improve Your Workflow

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20+ Blogging Tools to Improve Your Workflow

If you want to make the most of your time blogging, choose the right tools because they’ll save you a lot of money and effort.

But there are a lot of tools out there—and not all of them are worth it.

Well, I’ve been blogging for over a decade and have used hundreds of tools in that time. To help you sort the wheat from the chaff, I’ll list all the tools I’ve used to grow several blogs to a six-figure income—and what each of them is useful for.

My 10 favorite blogging tools and what they’re good for

Just want the best blogging tool stack? Here are my 10 most-used tools for blogging:

  1. WordPress – Best content management system (CMS) to manage your blog.
  2. Google Docs Best word document editor to collaborate with your team.
  3. Wordable Easily upload your articles from Google Docs to WordPress with one click.
  4. Ahrefs Best all-around SEO tool for ranking high on Google.
  5. Notion Best task management and content planning software.
  6. Google Search Console Best tool for making informed SEO decisions.
  7. Canva Best graphic creation tool.
  8. Snagit Best screenshot capture and editing tool.
  9. Loom Best screen recording tool.
  10. ConvertKit Best email marketing software.

Want more? Keep reading.

Writing, editing, and publishing tools

Let’s kick things off with a list of tools you can use to research, write, edit, and veröffentlichen your blog posts.

WordPress

WordPress posts dashboard

What it is: A content management system (CMS) to build your website and publish blog posts.

Why I love it: It is the most robust, SEO-friendly CMS on the market. Because it’s open source and so popular, you can do almost anything with WordPress with the right plugins or a good web developer. I’ve been using it since I started my first blog at 15. It’s not the easiest blogging tool for beginners, but it’s much more powerful than “beginner-friendly” website editors like Wix or Squarespace once you learn how to use it.

Price: Free.

Google Docs

Google Docs home screen

What it is: A document editor.

Why I love it: Google Docs is an easy-to-use free document editor that makes collaborating with writers and editors a breeze. I’ve been using it to write my blog articles for over 10 years. It just works.

Price: Free.

Wordable

Wordable homepage

What it does: Uploads articles from Google Docs to WordPress in one click.

Why I love it: Google Docs has hidden code that’s brought over when you copy-paste content to WordPress. Wordable fixes that by uploading the document to WordPress while keeping the formatting but removing the extra code. It also cleans up and optimizes your images.

Price: Free up to five exports per month (then $50/month). 

CoSchedule Headline Studio

CoSchedule Headline Studio tool

What it does: Scores your headlines clickability and SEO.

Why I love it: It helps me write killer headlines—which is important for both clickability and SEO. Better headlines mean more clicks in the SERPs which, in turn, can help your content rank higher on Google. The tool gives you ideas of power words and uncommon words to use to make your headline more interesting, and its AI can write and suggest headlines for you.

Price: Free ($19/month or $99/year for premium).

Grammarly

Grammarly in action

What it does: Makes suggestions to improve your writing and fixes grammar and spelling mistakes.

Why I love it: Sometimes when you’re in the flow of writing, the words just pour out of you—and you don’t want to interrupt that flow by fixing typos or grammar mistakes. I use Grammarly post-draft to fix my mistakes after the bulk of the article is finished. It’s also compatible with Google Docs and WordPress if you get the Grammarly browser plugin, which is nice.

Price: Free. 

ChatGPT

ChatGPT's response to "What are the best tools to help grow a blog?"

What it is: An AI chatbot.

Why I love it: I use ChatGPT for researching and outlining a lot of my content. It can help you identify topics or ideas you didn’t think about in your initial content outline. I have also started playing with it to improve my content and my life in general, such as using it to help me come up with road trip itineraries for specific needs—like finding the best routes based on weather and areas with free camping—then turn that trip into a blog post and social media videos.

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Price: Free ($20/month for premium access).

Hemingway App

Hemingway App explanation

What it is: A text editor that grades your writing using the Flesch-Kincaid Grade Level.

Why I love it: As someone who performs and writes about fairly complex SEO tasks on a near-daily basis, it can be hard to know if my writing is easy to understand for the complete beginner. While the Hemingway App won’t necessarily help me break down these complex tasks, it will tell me if my writing is overly complex from a readability standpoint. If it is, I can simplify things more so that nearly anyone can read it. It’s up to me to make sure it still makes sense, though.

Price: Free.

Content organization and planning tools

Next up, let’s look at tools to help you create a content calendar and keep your content organized.

Notion

Notion goal planning dashboard

What it is: A productivity software.

Why I love it: Notion is one of the coolest software I’ve ever used. You can customize it to do almost anything: manage your to-do list, plan a content calendar, collaborate with your team, and much more. I use it to keep track of my projects and goals (both personal and business), plan out my content, journal, take notes about new things I’m learning, and more. I use Thomas Frank’s Ultimate Brain template, which has a steep learning curve but totally transformed how I plan my life and business.

Price: Free (premium plans start at $8/month).

Locker

Slack channels for staying connected with other bloggers

What it is: A messaging app.

Why I love it: I used to use Slack to stay in touch with my team. However, now that I use Notion, we mostly just communicate via that app. Now, I use Slack to join communities with other bloggers and content marketers and keep in touch with masterminds I’ve met over the years. Check out some of these Slack communities for SEOs.

Price: Free (premium plans start at $7.25/month).

Google Analytics

Google Analytics dashboard

What it is: An analytics dashboard for your website.

Why I love it: Seeing analytics data (e.g., what pages people are visiting on your site, how long they’re staying on your site, and where that traffic came from) is important to make informed decisions about what types of content to produce Und where to promote your content. I check the analytics at least once a week to see which pages are performing best.

Price: Free. 

Google Trends

Google Trends results for "camping"

What it does: Shows search trends for topics over time.

Why I love it: It’s super useful for finding trending and breakout topics. For example, I was recently looking for new topics for my camping website and found that searches for “lake berryessa camping” have risen 70% in the last 12 months.

Price: Free. 

Search engine optimization and blogging are two peas in a pod. If you want to grow your blog organically, you need to learn SEO. Here are a few tools to help you rank higher on Google:

Ahrefs

Ahrefs' Content Gap report

What it is: An all-in-one SEO tool suite.

Why I love it: I use Ahrefs for a lot of things. For me, it’s been most useful for Stichwortforschung Und finding backlink opportunities. My most-used feature of Ahrefs is the Content Gap report within the Site Explorer tool, as shown in the screenshot above. I like to spy on my competitors’ keywords to see what they’re ranking for that I’m not. Of course, that’s just scratching the surface of what Ahrefs can do.

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Price: $99+ per month (free tools available).

SurferSEO

SurferSEO Google Doc integration

What it is: A software that analyzes current Google search results to score your content based on how well optimized it is compared to competing results.

Why I love it: I use SurferSEO to help me outline my content in a way that is more likely to rank well on Google. It has a content editor with a content score system that goes from 0 to 100 to grade how well optimized your content is for a given keyword (100 being the most well-optimized article). It also has a Chrome extension that lets you use it in combination with Google Docs.

Price: $49+/month (depending on tier).

Yoast SEO

Yoast SEO desktop search engine preview

What it is: A WordPress plugin that helps you better optimize your pages for search engines.

Why I love it: Yoast makes it easy to set your page’s meta tags, add robots.txt Und sitemap files to help Google more easily crawl your site, and quickly see what pages aren’t optimized for search.

Price: Free ($99/year for premium).

Google Search Console

Google Search Console performance overview

What it is: A tool to monitor and troubleshoot your website’s appearance in search results.

Why I love it: I use Google Search Console to help me find pages that are losing traction on the SERPs over time. Just go to the “Performance” report; then for the date, compare the last three months to the previous three months (or longer). Anything that’s dropped in traffic should be considered for a content refresh. I also use it to keep tabs on my site’s performance in general and see if it has any issues like not passing Core Web Vitals.

Price: Free.

AnswerThePublic

AnswerThePublic results for "coffee"

What it is: A software that finds common questions people ask on Google that are relevant to a given search query.

Why I love it: I use ATP to ensure I’m addressing all the common frequently asked questions people have around a given topic when I’m writing an article. It also helps me to show up as the answer for People Also Ask questions on Google.

Price: Free (premium plans start at $9 per month).

To The Web Title Tag Preview Tool

To The Web's title tag and meta description preview tool

What it is: A tool to see at a glance if your meta title and description are too short, too long, or just right.

Why I love it: I use it to make sure my title tags won’t be truncated (cut off) in the Google search results. If your title tag is too long (or too short), you can see it with this tool and adjust it accordingly.

Price: Free.

Marketing automation and lead magnet tools

Let’s face it—there are only 24 hours in a day. You don’t want to waste your time manually sharing every blog post on social media or sending individual emails, do you? These tools will automate some of those time-consuming tasks for you.

Buffer

Example of a post being scheduled using Buffer

What it is: A social media scheduling tool.

Why I love it: Posting the same thing to four different social media channels is both a pain and a waste of time. Buffer makes it so that I can push updates across channels from one dashboard and see how they’re performing without logging in and posting from each channel separately. I also hired a freelancer and trained her to schedule all my blog posts to all my channels on Buffer for a double-whammy of time-saving awesomeness.

Price: Free (premium plans start at $6/month per channel).

ConvertKit

ConvertKit email broadcast example

What it is: An email newsletter automation tool.

Why I love it: I love the fact that ConvertKit is extremely intuitive and easy to use. I’ve tried Mailchimp, BirdSend, and a handful of other email marketing tools—none of them were as simple as ConvertKit. I also love that its powerful automation features allow me to set up custom email drip campaigns that are tailored to individual segments of my audience, which increases engagement rates by allowing me to create highly personalized emails.

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Price: Free up to 300 subscribers (then starts at $9/month).

Zapier

Zapier zap automation examples

What it is: An automation API.

Why I love it: What’s not to love about automation? I use Zapier to send me an email when someone fills out one of my Typeforms to inquire about my services, but you can do a lot with it. Check out its list of use-case examples to get ideas.

Price: Free up to 100 tasks/month (starts at $19.99/month for paid plans).

Last but not least, I have a suite of tools I use to create images, videos, screenshots, and more. 

Canva

Canva's dashboard for creating custom graphics

What it is: A drag-and-drop image editor.

Why I love it: I use Canva to create featured images and social media share images for all of my blog posts. It’s incredibly easy and intuitive for a non-designer like myself to create high-quality graphics that look professionally made. It also has an AI photo editor to automate—or at least assist in—the process.

Price: Free ($12.99/month or $119.99/year for premium).

Snagit

Editing using Snagit's screen capture

What it is: A screen capturing and editing tool.

Why I love it: I’ve used a lot of screen capture tools, and this one has been by far the best. We use it at Ahrefs for all of our screen captures to show you how to use our tools. I also use it in my blogs to add extra information when needed and in my standard operating procedures for freelancers.

Price: $62.99 (free trial available).

Loom

Loom video examples

What it is: A screen recording tool.

Why I love it: It’s simply the easiest way to record your screen and share it with your team, blog readers, or whoever. I use it to record tutorials, how-tos, and other videos to help my employees learn SOPs and to show exactly how to do certain tasks in my YouTube videos.

Price: Free (unlimited video starts at $8/month).

Descript

What it is: An audio and video editor.

Why I love it: Descript is much more powerful than a simple audio or video editor—it has cutting-edge AI software that allows you to do things like “greenscreen” any background, remove all the “ums” and “uhs” from your audio, and easily rearrange clips. It even has an AI tool that can clone your voice in case you forget to say something. Pretty cool if you ask me.

Price: Free (paid plans start at $12/month).

Fotor AI Image Generator

What it is: An AI image generator. Duh.

Why I love it: It’s fun to create totally unique custom images for your blog posts based on text prompts using AI. While it’s not great yet, it’s come a long way and soon will be able to create photo-realistic images to use in your content. I also use it to occasionally give me fun things to share on Instagram.

Price: Free ($12.99/month or $119.99/year for premium).

Unsplash

Truck stock photos on Unsplash

What it is: A free-to-use, high-quality stock image library.

Why I love it: I use Unsplash to find high-quality photos to use in the Canva graphics I create for my blog posts—such as featured images and photos to visually show what I’m discussing in the text. I used an image of a truck on my page about truck driver statistics, for example.

Price: Free.

Abschließende Gedanken

Having the right tools for blogging can help you produce better content faster, get more out of your blog articles, and grow at an exponential rate.

The tools in this guide are the ones I’ve personally used and, in my opinion, are worth investing in (if you have the need for what they do).

Questions or comments? Ping me auf Twitter.



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