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“Opportunity for reach on social media is larger than ever”: How can publishers make the most of it? | What’s New in Publishing

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“Opportunity for reach on social media is larger than ever”: How can publishers make the most of it? | What’s New in Publishing

“Facebook is a particularly effective platform for all manner of content verticals to generate click-throughs.”

Highlights from a new report that compiles benchmarking data from the major social platforms. The findings will help publishers understand how they are performing with respect to their competition on these platforms and optimize their social media strategies for best results.  

Over 4.5B people use social media – that’s nearly 60% of the world’s population, according to a new report from Echobox. And the average growth rate of social media users globally is 3% per year. “The opportunity for reach on social media is larger than ever,” the authors note. “How can companies make the most of this moment in time?”

Improving click-through traffic between social platforms and websites would help publishers attract readers and build relationships with them. “In this regard, benchmarking data is essential to understanding how different platforms perform in driving traffic back to a website,” they explain. 

The report, The Ultimate Collection of 2023 Social Media Benchmarks, provides benchmarks for Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and LinkedIn. These are based on detailed analysis of thousands of social shares from businesses around the world – Echobox serves over 1,500 leading brands and businesses globally. Publishers can use this data to evaluate and update their existing social media strategies. 

Healthy click-through patterns enable companies to capitalize on the enormous number of social media users and funnel them toward their website’s carefully curated environment.

The Ultimate Collection of 2023 Social Media Benchmarks

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“Single greatest social resource”

Facebook, according to the report, is “still perhaps the single greatest social resource for businesses looking to drive click-through traffic.” It has 1.98B daily active users and 2.96B monthly active users which is equivalent to over a third of the world’s population. Additionally, it has an “incredibly broad demographic spread across ages and countries.” Referring to a Pew Research study, the report shares that the platform is used by 70% of 18- to 29-year-olds, 77% of those aged 30-49, and 73% of those aged 50-69. 

Moreover, the ten countries with the highest number of Facebook users are spread across North, South, and Central America, and a substantial portion of Asia Pacific. They include mature markets as well as emerging ones like India and Indonesia.  

Echobox analyzed over 3,000 Facebook Pages from hundreds of businesses all over the globe during a 6-month period. The data shows that average CTR has grown, with few exceptions, for businesses across content verticals, countries, and languages compared to 2021.

For example, the average CTR across all content types is 3% which is an increase of 0.5% compared to 2021. Sports and Health lead across content verticals with average CTRs of 3.85% and 3.82% respectively. The report adds that sports content performs strongly on almost all social media platforms. Additionally, it underlines the striking uniformity in the results – the difference in CTR between the best to worst-performing verticals is a little over 1.5%. This indicates that “Facebook is a particularly effective platform for all manner of content verticals to generate click-throughs.”

Although sports content continues to lead it registered a slightly lower CTR compared to 2021 (4.5%). What’s encouraging though is all other content verticals registered higher scores, often with significant margins. The International News Content, for example, had an average CTR of 1.8% in 2021 – it has grown to 3.03% in the current analysis. Similarly, Lifestyle content has increased from 3% to 3.55%.  

1677496147 475 Opportunity for reach on social media is larger than ever

“Over 2B active monthly users”

Meta’s other social platform Instagram now has over 2B active monthly users and is growing at an incredible rate. Like Facebook, its users are distributed all over the globe. The Asia-Pacific region alone has almost 1B active monthly users, around the same number as Europe and North and South America combined. 

Nearly 40% of its users visit the platform in any given week, according to Reuters Institute’s Digital News Report 2022, and 90% follow a business. A 2021 Pew Research Center study found that 71% of 18-29-year-old Americans use Instagram. All of this indicates that businesses have a receptive and young audience on Instagram that can potentially be converted into loyal and paying customers.

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With Instagram’s huge, predominantly young user base, businesses that can drive their Instagram audiences back to their website can more effectively market their offerings using first-party data and foster repeat business for years to come.

The Ultimate Collection of 2023 Social Media Benchmarks

Echobox analyzed referral traffic from more than 200 Instagram pages over 6 months, across different industries, languages, and countries. It found that on average, the platform drives 3.8% of all social referral traffic. Sports is once again the highest-performing content vertical. It gets an average of 12.94% of total social pageviews from Instagram. That’s almost double of the next best-performing content vertical i.e., Lifestyle (6.58%). It’s followed by Fashion and News which have above-average scores of 4.96% and 3.92% respectively.  

1677496147 436 Opportunity for reach on social media is larger than ever

“Sports content may record an elevated portion of traffic from Instagram due to the industry’s unique hybrid social-business model,” the authors explain, “which sees a high volume of content produced and shared, much like a news publisher, whilst relying on merchandise and ticket sales like a retailer.” 

“This mixed strategy may be a key factor in Sports businesses’ ability to drive comparably high levels of social pageviews from Instagram (no doubt aided by sizable fanbases).”

The Ultimate Collection of 2023 Social Media Benchmarks

They add that the timing of Instagram posts can significantly impact their performance. This is seen while examining the hourly traffic from Instagram for two different news publishers who offer similar content to the same geographic audience – the results do not match at all. This, according to the report, is because “each business is unique. Each business’ content is unique. Each business’ audience is unique.” 

1677496147 421 Opportunity for reach on social media is larger than ever

“Audience interaction is the great advantage of Twitter”

The other big social media platform i.e., Twitter is going through a period of uncertainty since its ownership changed. Despite that, it “remains an effective tool for businesses hoping to increase brand visibility, boost audience engagement, generate click-throughs or grow subscriber numbers,” according to the report. 

The number of monetizable daily active Twitter users stood at 237.8M, up 16.65% compared to the previous year, according to the company’s second-quarter earnings report from 2022. And they are spread across the globe – the US leads with 83.4M active users, followed by Japan (60.7M), India (24.8M), Indonesia (21.2M), and Brazil (20.6M). Like Instagram, they are mostly young, with over half between the ages of 18 and 44.

Twitter is also increasingly being used by businesses as an online customer service platform. “Twitter’s unique environment fosters immediacy and interaction in a very different way from a platform such as Facebook,” the authors suggest, quoting researchers from Deakin University in Australia. “Due to this, co-promotion on Twitter by a brand and its audience can foster and nurture a positive emotional connection between the two.”

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Audience interaction is the great advantage of Twitter over other platforms. The ability to run polls, for example, helps to foster a relationship with followers, by showing that a brand actively seeks out feedback. 

The Ultimate Collection of 2023 Social Media Benchmarks

Echobox analyzed pageview data of more than 600 Twitter pages, from 21 countries and in 11 languages over 6 months. They found that on average, Twitter generates 6.7% of all social referral traffic.  

News content publishers received the highest percentage of their social pageviews from Twitter. National News (11.62%), International News (10.46%), and Local/Regional News (8.94%) are among the top 4 performers. 

1677496147 767 Opportunity for reach on social media is larger than ever

The report also underlines that news publishers collectively have a larger audience on Twitter than any other platform. The company itself revealed that 94% of its users express interest in current events, 85% watch, read, or listen to the news at least once a day, and 83% tweet about news.

While the top seven content verticals get over 8% of their social pageviews from Twitter, the remaining four i.e., Lifestyle, Food & Drink, and Fashion, show a notable drop. This is likely because these verticals work better with visual content which makes them more suited for platforms like Instagram and TikTok. 

“Engrain their brands in the minds of potential subscribers”

News publishers also have a major presence on LinkedIn which has just under a billion users worldwide with the numbers growing YoY. Moreover, a Pew research report suggests that more adults in the US have used LinkedIn than Twitter, Snapchat, TikTok, or Reddit as of last year. An average visit to the platform lasts about seven minutes which is nearly the same as Instagram. 

LinkedIn offers a geographically diverse audience of professionals. More publishers are coming around to the potential of the platform, not only for recruitment but for content distribution. 

The Ultimate Collection of 2023 Social Media Benchmarks

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LinkedIn users are also potentially more likely to pay for content. 60% are between the ages of 25 and 34—A 2020 World Economic Forum report found that the 16-34 age group is more likely to pay for news than the global average. “Exposure to this age group gives publishers the opportunity to engrain their brands in the minds of potential subscribers and develop relationships for the long term,” suggests the Echobox report.

The researchers analyzed more than 100 different LinkedIn pages over 6 months for 4 different types of publisher content. These are Local News, National News, Foreign Affairs, and a General category of mixed content verticals. They found that on average publishers get around 1.5% of all social traffic from LinkedIn.

The General category has the highest score (2.49%), followed by International News/Foreign Affairs (2.06%). There is a notable drop in pageviews from Local/Regional (1.07%) and National News (0.21%).

1677496147 814 Opportunity for reach on social media is larger than ever

“We can speculate that the above-average performance of International News/Foreign Affairs content on LinkedIn reflects a more international audience at both an individual and corporate level,” according to the report. 

An increasingly mobile professional class may be looking for news from their countries of origin, whilst the predominance of businesses on LinkedIn means that news of global events may have a greater significance to their day-to-day operations. 

The Ultimate Collection of 2023 Social Media Benchmarks

The study also analyzed two content types: News and Magazines. Between the two, Magazines (15.41%) fetch a significantly higher percentage of pageviews from LinkedIn compared to News (2.13%). 

1677496147 900 Opportunity for reach on social media is larger than ever

This is likely connected to the performance International News/Foreign Affairs vertical on the platform. The report suggests that it may be the “depth of analysis of which a weekly or monthly magazine is capable makes it more relevant to a professional audience who are the main users of LinkedIn.”

“Understanding the nuances of each social platform”

That rounds up all the social media platforms covered in the report. These benchmarks are intended to give publishers insights into how their content is performing on social media vis-à-vis their competitors and the content verticals they are focused on. They may discover the potential for improving performance.

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“Optimizing performance on social media involves a multitude of elements that, in combination, can lead to significantly increased engagement on the platforms,” the researchers explain. “While some principles apply to all social media platforms (like finding the right time to post, for example) others, such as emoji or hashtag use, require best practices specific to each platform.”

Understanding the nuances of each social platform as well as the expectations of your specific audience is therefore crucial.

The Ultimate Collection of 2023 Social Media Benchmarks

The full report can be downloaded here:
The Ultimate Collection of 2023 Social Media Benchmarks

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Christian family goes in hiding after being cleared of blasphemy

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Christian family goes in hiding after being cleared of blasphemy

LAHORE, Pakistan — A court in Pakistan granted bail to a Christian falsely charged with blasphemy, but he and his family have separated and gone into hiding amid threats to their lives, sources said.

Haroon Shahzad (right) with attorney Aneeqa Maria. | The Voice Society/Morning Star News

Haroon Shahzad, 45, was released from Sargodha District Jail on Nov. 15, said his attorney, Aneeqa Maria. Shahzad was charged with blasphemy on June 30 after posting Bible verses on Facebook that infuriated Muslims, causing dozens of Christian families in Chak 49 Shumaali, near Sargodha in Punjab Province, to flee their homes.

Lahore High Court Judge Ali Baqir Najfi granted bail on Nov. 6, but the decision and his release on Nov. 15 were not made public until now due to security fears for his life, Maria said.

Shahzad told Morning Star News by telephone from an undisclosed location that the false accusation has changed his family’s lives forever.

“My family has been on the run from the time I was implicated in this false charge and arrested by the police under mob pressure,” Shahzad told Morning Star News. “My eldest daughter had just started her second year in college, but it’s been more than four months now that she hasn’t been able to return to her institution. My other children are also unable to resume their education as my family is compelled to change their location after 15-20 days as a security precaution.”

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Though he was not tortured during incarceration, he said, the pain of being away from his family and thinking about their well-being and safety gave him countless sleepless nights.

“All of this is due to the fact that the complainant, Imran Ladhar, has widely shared my photo on social media and declared me liable for death for alleged blasphemy,” he said in a choked voice. “As soon as Ladhar heard about my bail, he and his accomplices started gathering people in the village and incited them against me and my family. He’s trying his best to ensure that we are never able to go back to the village.”

Shahzad has met with his family only once since his release on bail, and they are unable to return to their village in the foreseeable future, he said.

“We are not together,” he told Morning Star News. “They are living at a relative’s house while I’m taking refuge elsewhere. I don’t know when this agonizing situation will come to an end.”

The Christian said the complainant, said to be a member of Islamist extremist party Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan and also allegedly connected with banned terrorist group Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, filed the charge because of a grudge. Shahzad said he and his family had obtained valuable government land and allotted it for construction of a church building, and Ladhar and others had filed multiple cases against the allotment and lost all of them after a four-year legal battle.

“Another probable reason for Ladhar’s jealousy could be that we were financially better off than most Christian families of the village,” he said. “I was running a successful paint business in Sargodha city, but that too has shut down due to this case.”

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Regarding the social media post, Shahzad said he had no intention of hurting Muslim sentiments by sharing the biblical verse on his Facebook page.

“I posted the verse a week before Eid Al Adha [Feast of the Sacrifice] but I had no idea that it would be used to target me and my family,” he said. “In fact, when I came to know that Ladhar was provoking the villagers against me, I deleted the post and decided to meet the village elders to explain my position.”

The village elders were already influenced by Ladhar and refused to listen to him, Shahzad said.

“I was left with no option but to flee the village when I heard that Ladhar was amassing a mob to attack me,” he said.

Shahzad pleaded with government authorities for justice, saying he should not be punished for sharing a verse from the Bible that in no way constituted blasphemy.

Similar to other cases

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Shahzad’s attorney, Maria, told Morning Star News that events in Shahzad’s case were similar to other blasphemy cases filed against Christians.

“Defective investigation, mala fide on the part of the police and complainant, violent protests against the accused persons and threats to them and their families, forcing their displacement from their ancestral areas, have become hallmarks of all blasphemy allegations in Pakistan,” said Maria, head of The Voice Society, a Christian paralegal organization.

She said that the case filed against Shahzad was gross violation of Section 196 of the Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC), which states that police cannot register a case under the Section 295-A blasphemy statute against a private citizen without the approval of the provincial government or federal agencies.

Maria added that Shahzad and his family have continued to suffer even though there was no evidence of blasphemy.

“The social stigma attached with a blasphemy accusation will likely have a long-lasting impact on their lives, whereas his accuser, Imran Ladhar, would not have to face any consequence of his false accusation,” she said.

The judge who granted bail noted that Shahzad was charged with blasphemy under Section 295-A, which is a non-cognizable offense, and Section 298, which is bailable. The judge also noted that police had not submitted the forensic report of Shahzad’s cell phone and said evidence was required to prove that the social media was blasphemous, according to Maria.

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Bail was set at 100,000 Pakistani rupees (US $350) and two personal sureties, and the judge ordered police to further investigate, she said.

Shahzad, a paint contractor, on June 29 posted on his Facebook page 1 Cor. 10:18-21 regarding food sacrificed to idols, as Muslims were beginning the four-day festival of Eid al-Adha, which involves slaughtering an animal and sharing the meat.

A Muslim villager took a screenshot of the post, sent it to local social media groups and accused Shahzad of likening Muslims to pagans and disrespecting the Abrahamic tradition of animal sacrifice.

Though Shahzad made no comment in the post, inflammatory or otherwise, the situation became tense after Friday prayers when announcements were made from mosque loudspeakers telling people to gather for a protest, family sources previously told Morning Star News.

Fearing violence as mobs grew in the village, most Christian families fled their homes, leaving everything behind.

In a bid to restore order, the police registered a case against Shahzad under Sections 295-A and 298. Section 295-A relates to “deliberate and malicious acts intended to outrage religious feelings of any class by insulting its religion or religious beliefs” and is punishable with imprisonment of up to 10 years and fine, or both. Section 298 prescribes up to one year in prison and a fine, or both, for hurting religious sentiments.

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Pakistan ranked seventh on Open Doors’ 2023 World Watch List of the most difficult places to be a Christian, up from eighth the previous year.

Morning Star News is the only independent news service focusing exclusively on the persecution of Christians. The nonprofit’s mission is to provide complete, reliable, even-handed news in order to empower those in the free world to help persecuted Christians, and to encourage persecuted Christians by informing them that they are not alone in their suffering.

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Individual + Team Stats: Hornets vs. Timberwolves

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CHARLOTTE HORNETS MINNESOTA TIMBERWOLVES You can follow us for future coverage by liking us on Facebook & following us on X: Facebook – All Hornets X – …

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What went wrong with ‘the Metaverse’? An insider’s postmortem

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What went wrong with 'the Metaverse'? An insider's postmortem


It’s now two years since Facebook changed its name to Meta, ushering in a brief but blazing enthusiasm over “the Metaverse”, a concept from science fiction that suddenly seemed to be the next inevitable leap in technology. For most people in tech, however, the term has since lost its luster, seemingly supplanted by any product with “artificial intelligence” attached to its description. 

But the true story of the Metaverse’s rise and fall in public awareness is much more complicated and interesting than simply being the short life cycle of a buzzword — it also reflects a collective failure of both imagination and understanding.  

Consider:

The forgotten novel

Ironically, many tech reporters discounted or even ignored the profound influence of Snow Crash on actual working technologists. The founders of Roblox and Epic (creator of Fortnite) among many other developers were directly inspired by the novel. Despite that, Neal Stephenson’s classic cyberpunk tale has often been depicted as if it were an obscure dystopian tome which merely coined the term. As opposed to what it actually did: describe the concept with a biblical specificity that thousands of developers have referenced in their virtual world projects — many of which have already become extremely popular.

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Snow Crash.

You can see this lack of clarity in many of the mass tech headlines attempting to describe the Metaverse in the wake of Facebook’s name change: 

In a widely shared “obituary” to the Metaverse, Business Insider’s Ed Zitron even compounded the confusion still further by inexplicably misattributing the concept to TRON, the original Disney movie from the 80s.

Had the media referenced Snow Crash far more accurately when the buzz began, they’d come away with a much better understanding of why so many technologists are excited by the Metaverse concept — and realize its early incarnation is already gaining strong user traction.  

Because in the book, the Metaverse is a vast, immersive virtual world that’s simultaneously accessible by millions of people through highly customizable avatars and powerful experience creation tools that are integrated with the offline world through its virtual economy and external technology. In other words, it’s more or less like Roblox and Fortnite — platforms with many tens of millions of active users. 

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But then again, the tech media can’t be fully blamed for following Mark Zuckerberg’s lead.

Rather than create a vision for its Metaverse iterating on already successful platforms — Roblox’s 2020 IPO filing even describes itself as the metaverse — Meta’s executive leadership cobbled together a mishmash of disparate products. Most of which, such as remotely working in VR headsets, remain far from proven. According to an internal Blind survey, a majority of Zuckerberg’s own employees say he has not adequately explained what he means by the Metaverse even to them.

Grievous of all, Zuckerberg and his CTO Andrew Bosworth promoted a conception of the Metaverse in which the Quest headset was central. To do so, they had to overlook compelling evidence — raised by senior Microsoft researcher danah boyd at the time of the company acquiring Oculus in 2014 — that females have a high propensity to get nauseous using VR.

Meta Quest 3 comes out on October 10 for $500.
Meta Quest 3.

Contacted in late 2022 while writing Making a Metaverse That Matters, danah told me no one at Oculus or Meta followed up with her about the research questions she raised. Over the years, I have asked several senior Meta staffers (past and present) about this and have yet to receive an adequate reply. Unsurprisingly, Meta’s Quest 2 VR headset has an estimated install base of only about 20 million units, significantly smaller than the customer count of leading video game consoles. A product that tends to make half the population puke is not exactly destined for the mass market — let alone a reliable base for building the Metaverse. 

Ironically, Neal Stephenson himself has frequently insisted that virtual reality is absolutely not a prerequisite for the Metaverse, since flat screens display immersive virtual worlds just fine. But here again, the tech media instead ratified Meta’s flawed VR-centric vision by constantly illustrating articles about the Metaverse with photos of people happily donning headsets to access it — inadvertently setting up a straw man destined to soon go ablaze.

Duct-taped to yet another buzzword

Further sealing the Metaverse hype wave’s fate, it crested around the same time that Web3 and crypto were still enjoying their own euphoria period. This inevitably spawned the “cryptoverse” with platforms like Decentraland and The Sandbox. When the crypto crash came, it was easy to assume the Metaverse was also part of that fall.

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But the cryptoverse platforms failed in the same way that other crypto schemes have gone awry: By offering a virtual world as a speculative opportunity, it primarily attracted crypto speculators, not virtual world enthusiasts. By October of 2022, Decentraland was only tracking 7,000 daily active users, game industry analyst Lars Doucet informed me

“Everybody who is still playing is basically just playing poker,” as Lars put it. “This seems to be a kind of recurring trend in dead-end crypto projects. Kind of an eerie rhyme with left-behind American cities where drugs come in and anyone who is left is strung out at a slot machine parlor or liquor store.”

All this occurred as the rise of generative AI birthed another, shinier buzzword — one that people not well-versed in immersive virtual worlds could better understand.

But as “the Metaverse” receded as a hype totem, a hilarious thing happened: Actual metaverse platforms continued growing. Roblox now counts over 300 million monthly active users, making its population nearly the size of the entire United States; Fortnite had its best usage day in 6 years. Meta continues plodding along but seems to finally be learning from its mistakes — for instance, launching a mobile version of its metaverse platform Horizon Worlds.  

Roblox leads the rise of user-generated content.
Roblox.

Into this mix, a new wave of metaverse platforms is preparing to launch, refreshingly led by seasoned, successful game developers: Raph Koster with Playable Worlds, Jenova Chen with his early, successful forays into metaverse experiences, and Everywhere, a metaverse platform lead developed by a veteran of the Grand Theft Auto franchise.

At some point, everyone in tech who co-signed the “death” of the Metaverse may notice this sustained growth. By then however, the term may no longer require much usage, just as the term “information superhighway” fell away as broadband Internet went mainstream.  

Wagner James Au is author of Making a Metaverse That Matters: From Snow Crash & Second Life to A Virtual World Worth Fighting For 

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