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Content Marketing for Startups: A Beginner’s Guide

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Content Marketing for Startups: A Beginner’s Guide

Content marketing has been gaining popularity steadily.

Google Trends for "content marketing"

More and more companies, e.g., Shopify, Beardbrand, and us too, have succeeded using this type of marketing. 

If you’re a startup, you’re probably wondering, “Should I use content marketing? And if I decide to, how do I go about it?” 

That’s what we’re answering in this guide. 

Why is content marketing important for startups?

Content marketing is important for startups because it helps them get more customers. It does this by creating brand awareness and teaching potential customers how a business can help solve their problems. 

For example, we have a blog post about finding out who links to your website. It currently holds the featured snippet for the query:

Featured snippet for the query "who links to my site"

Within the article, we show readers how to find out who links to their websites using a couple of tools, one of which is our own Site Explorer:

Mention of our tool, Site Explorer, in our blog post

So anyone who’s searching for this query will discover our brand and product. They may eventually become customers. 

And that’s only one blog post. Compound the effect by the hundreds of pieces of content we’ve produced—articles, videos, social posts, etc.—and you can see how powerful content marketing can be. 

Just see how much organic traffic our blog gets from Google alone:

Organic traffic for the Ahrefs blog, via Ahrefs' Site Explorer

Getting buy-in for content marketing

Content marketing takes time. It takes time in terms of resources (research, creation, promotion), and it takes time in terms of results. 

Because it requires patience, content marketing works well only if the management team believes in it. That has been my experience so far, and it has been the experience for others too:

Unfortunately, not every management team is on board with content marketing right away. For example, some startups have limited resources or C-level executives may be biased toward marketing channels, e.g., paid advertising, that produce “faster” results. 

So if your boss or manager doesn’t give you sufficient time or resources to invest in content marketing, then it cannot work. If you’re in that situation, you’ll need to first spend some time getting buy-in from your managers.

Your game plan should involve:

  • Statistics proving that content marketing works – Use this list of content marketing statistics to convince your management team. 
  • Examples of other companies (ideally in your niche) that have found content marketing to work well – If you’re starting a new beard product company, for example, you’ll want to show your managers how Beardbrand has succeeded with its blog. 

You’ll also want to show them your content marketing plan, so they know how you’ll be executing the strategy and tactics. 

You can also use the resources below to learn how to build up your case. While they’re about SEO, the principles can still apply to your situation. (After all, SEO and content marketing suffer from similar management team setbacks.)

Getting started with content marketing for your startup

Before you create any content, make sure you have two things down pat. 

1. Your target audience

The goal of content marketing is to attract more customers to your business. So if you don’t know exactly who you’re targeting, you can’t create the right content to get more of them.

The first step before you do anything is to be clear on who your target audience is

We recommend that you create a buyer persona. Read the guide below to learn how to create one for your business.

Recommended reading: How to Create a Buyer Persona for Your Business 

2. Get your technical SEO in order

A big part of your content marketing strategy will be to rank your content high on Google. But if Google cannot access, crawl, or index your content, then you simply cannot rank. 

So it’s important to get the technical aspects of your website right. The easiest way to do this is to sign up for our free Ahrefs Webmaster Tools (AWT) and run an audit of your website

If there are any technical SEO issues with your website, the tool will flag them out for you. It’ll also explain why something is an issue and how you can fix it:

Issue details and how to fix it, via Ahrefs' Site Audit

Recommended reading: The Beginner’s Guide to Technical SEO 

The two types of content you’ll create

Your approach to content creation will be two-pronged. Both types of content should be created simultaneously. 

Prong 1. “Viral” content

The first part of your content strategy will be to create content that has the potential to attract a lot of attention. You know this as “going viral.” 

Why do we want to do this? There are a few reasons:

  1. Gaining a lot of attention in the short term for your content can prove to the management that content marketing works Metrics like shares may be vanity, but they provide short-term results that can help nudge management toward investing more in content marketing. 
  2. Get your brand name out – One of the biggest challenges for startups is that no one knows who you are. If your content attracts attention, then people will start to notice your brand. 
  3. Earn links – Links are an important Google ranking factor. Since the second part of our strategy will involve ranking high on Google, you should start acquiring links now. 
  4. Drive traffic to your website – Gaining attention means people are checking out your website and its contents. 

Now, take note that we don’t have to reach the level of the most viral meme. We just need people in our niche to know and share about us.

Here’s how to do it:

1. Find content ideas

I want to be clear: There are no surefire ways of knowing which content will go viral. If it was so easy, every startup would have a piece of viral content. 

What we can do is improve our chances of success. We can do this by looking at what has been popular and seeing if we can replicate the ideas. 

Here’s how:

1. Look at what has resonated in communities

Many “viral” pieces of content get their start in niche communities: 

  1. Someone shares a piece of content on a forum (e.g., Hacker News) or subreddit. 
  2. It generates a lot of upvotes and comments.
  3. It gets picked up by users on other social networks.
  4. The media picks it up.

So if you can find these pieces of content, you can consider replicating them. 

To find them, go to a forum or community page and find the most popular posts. For example, you can see this easily in any subreddit by setting it to Top and All Time

The Top posts of All Time in the subreddit, r/supplements

For other forums, you can typically find a Sort by feature where you can see the most viewed posts:

The Most Viewed posts in a forum

For Hacker News, you can use this “search engine” to look through the archives. 

2. Look at what has been highly shared

Viral” content doesn’t always get its start on a community forum. Sometimes, it generates its initial spread through a social network itself. 

Here’s how to find content that’s widely shared:

  1. Go to Ahrefs’ Content Explorer
  2. Enter a term relevant to your niche
  3. Set the Language filter to the language you create content in
  4. Set the Live/broken filter to Only live
  5. Set the filter to Exclude homepages and subdomains
  6. Sort the results by Twitter or Pinterest shares (whichever platform you’re interested in)
Most shared content, via Ahrefs' Content Explorer

You can also set the Publication date filter to a relatively recent period (e.g., one to two years) to see only content that has been highly shared recently. 

While Content Explorer is great for Twitter and Pinterest, it’s still missing a couple of important social networks. If you want to see what’s popular on Facebook and Instagram, you can use the CrowdTangle Chrome extension to see how often a link gets shared, who shared it, and what they said.

3. Look at what people are linking to

Linking is a form of sharing too. So if a piece of content has acquired a lot of links, it means it has generated a lot of attention. 

Here’s how to find this content:

  1. Go to Ahrefs’ Content Explorer
  2. Enter a term relevant to your niche
  3. Set the Language filter to the language you create content in
  4. Set the Live/broken filter to Only live
  5. Set the filter to Exclude homepages and subdomains
  6. Set the Publication date filter to sometime recent (e.g., the past two years)
  7. Sort the results by Referring domains
Most linked-to content, via Ahrefs' Content Explorer
4. Share a contrarian opinion

Hot takes and controversial opinions tend to get a lot of traction on social media. If you have one, you can create a piece of content around it. 

For example, since the pandemic began, remote work became championed as the “future norm.” Plenty of people seemed happy about it; no one seemed to question it. 

Well, Sean Blanda did. He wrote a piece titled, “Our remote work future is going to suck.” It must have resonated with many people because it has picked up hundreds of shares and links:

Stats for the post "Our remote work future is going to suck"

There should be plenty of widely accepted ideas, concepts, best practices, and advice in your niche. Share a contrarian opinion that refutes one of them. Even better: make sure you can back it up with actual data or personal experience. 

2. Create the content

Once you’ve selected a potential list of topics, it’s time to create the content. 

Follow the handbook below to learn how to create a great piece of content. 

Recommended reading: Writing Handbook by Julian Shapiro 

3. Promote the content

Content doesn’t go viral on its own. You’ll need a way to “kickstart” it. You’ll have to promote your content

Here are some tactics to help promote your content:

A. Share your content with your existing audience

If you have an existing audience on email and/or social media, make sure you share your newly published content with them. 

If you don’t have an existing audience, it’s a reminder to start building them.

B. Share content in relevant communities

You’ve got your ideas from these communities, so it’s a no-brainer to share them there. 

For example, when I was working at a startup a few years ago, I made sure to share my content on relevant subreddits. Many of the posts got hundreds and thousands of upvotes and sent a ton of traffic to the website:

Highly upvoted post on r/bodyweightfitness

Always make sure to study the communities you want to share your content in. Abide by the community rules, learn their culture and lingo, and participate actively. Don’t spam and don’t be there merely to promote—most communities hate that and will ban you in a jiffy. 

Only when you’re a trusted member of the community can you start to share some of your content. 

Recommended reading: Reddit Marketing: How to Self Promote on Reddit and Get More Traffic 

C. Outreach

There are multiple outreach opportunities in every post you publish. 

First, if you’ve mentioned anyone or any resources in your content, you should reach out and let them know. Nothing too complicated; just send a simple email like:

Hey [First Name],

I recently published an article on [topic] and linked to [your resource]. 

Here it is: [Link]

Thought you might enjoy the mention. 🙂

Cheers,

[Your Name]

Second, if you’ve based your content on highly shared or highly linked-to content, you can see who has shared or linked to the content and reach out. After all, if they’ve shared or linked to a similar piece of content in the past, chances are they’re interested in the topic and will love to see new stuff. 

To find these people, click on the Referring domains column in Content Explorer:

The websites linking to a popular post on Bitcoin, via Ahrefs' Content Explorer

If you’re looking for social shares, click on the Who tweeted tab:

The people who tweeted a popular post on Bitcoin, via Ahrefs' Content Explorer

Once you have a list of people, find their emails and reach out to them. 

Recommended reading: Blogger Outreach: How to Do It at Scale (Without Feeling Like a Jerk) 

D. Repurpose your content

Extend the shelf life of each piece of content you create by turning it into different formats. For example, we turned our video on affiliate marketing into a blog post

We also regularly turn our content into Twitter threads:

Recommended reading: The Complete Guide to Content Repurposing 

E. Run ads

If you have the budget, you can always run ads to your content to give it a boost. 

Recommended reading: PPC Marketing: Beginner’s Guide to Pay-Per-Click Ads 

Prong 2. SEO content

The second part of your content strategy will be to focus on evergreen content that will rank high on Google and generate search traffic. 

Here’s how to do it:

1. Find topics with search traffic potential

If you want to get search traffic, you have to target topics that people are searching for on Google. Finding these topics is a process known as keyword research, and the easiest way to begin is to use a keyword research tool like Ahrefs’ Keywords Explorer.

Here’s how:

  1. Go to Ahrefs’ Keywords Explorer
  2. Enter one or a few keywords related to your niche
  3. Go to the Matching terms report
The Matching terms report in Ahrefs' Keywords Explorer

Since startups generally have lesser “website authority,” we recommend targeting low-competition keywords in the beginning. 

For example, if you’re a social media marketing tool, it will be almost impossible to rank high for “social media marketing.” Not only does it have a Keyword Difficulty (KD) score of 91, but most of the top-ranking pages are also well-established sites with thousands of backlinks:

The SERP overview for "social media marketing," via Ahrefs' Keywords Explorer

To narrow down the list to only low-competition keywords, you can set the KD filter to a max of something like 20. 

Keyword Difficulty filter in Ahrefs' Keywords Explorer

From here, you can look through the list and pick out the keywords that are relevant and can promote your business. You can do this by looking at each topic’s business potential:

The Ahrefs Business Potential table

Ideally, you should focus on creating content for topics that score at least a “2” and above. That way, you can educate searchers who discover your content via search engines about how your product works and why it helps to solve their problems. 

This is known as product-led content, and it’s the basis of our entire content strategy. 

Recommended reading: Product-Led Content: What It Is, Why Use It, and How to Get Started 

2. Create content

When you have a list of topics you want to target, it’s time to create content to rank for them. 

To rank high on Google, you’ll need to show that your page deserves to be there. One of the most fundamental aspects of this is relevance. 

In SEO, relevance means aligning your content with search intent—the why behind a search query. We can understand this by looking at what’s ranking on the first page of Google. 

But more specifically, what we want is to analyze the three Cs of search intent. 

  1. Content type – Is there a dominant type of content on the SERP, such as blog posts, product pages, videos, or landing pages?
  2. Content format – Is there a dominant content format on the SERP, such as guides, listicles, news articles, opinion pieces, or reviews?
  3. Content angle – Is there a dominant angle on the SERP, such as freshly updated content or content aimed at beginners?

For example, let’s analyze the three Cs for the keyword, “best vpn”:

SERP overview for "best vpn," via Ahrefs' Keywords Explorer
  1. Content type – The results are mostly blog posts.
  2. Content format – The results are mostly listicles.
  3. Content angle – The results are mostly fresh, i.e., updated to the current year.

When you’ve analyzed the search intent for all your target topics, it’s time to create them. I recommend following the process in this video to learn how to create content that’ll rank on Google:

3. Build links

Links are an important Google ranking factor. It’s been confirmed by Google reps, and studies like our own have found a strong, positive correlation between the number of websites linking to a page and how much search traffic it gets from Google:

Chart showing the correlation between search traffic and referring domains

Put simply: If you want to rank high on Google, you need links. 

The issue, though, is that as a startup, you probably don’t have many links now. But don’t worry, all’s not lost. There are always “easy” links you can quickly acquire:

  • Social profiles – These days, you should at least have profiles and pages on the common social networks (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn). You can add links to your website on your pages. 
  • Startup directories – These are websites or pages that collate a list of startups. You can search for these sites on Google and apply to be on them. 
  • Local directories – These are websites or pages in your local area that collate a list of startups or products. Search for them and request to be on them.
  • Product Hunt – Product Hunt is a community for new product discovery. The “trick” is that you can’t submit your own product, so you’ll have to find someone (known as a “hunter”) to get them to add your product. 
  • Help a Reporter Out (HARO) – HARO is a site that connects journalists and experts. Sign up and you’ll receive emails from journalists looking for experts to quote. If you’re knowledgeable about a particular niche or industry, you can reply to a journalist and often get a link back. 
  • Product reviews – Reach out to websites or pages that review products in your niche. You can send them one of your products and get them to write a review about it. 

And more. 

Follow this video to acquire your first 100 backlinks: 

If you’re doing them right, your “viral” content pieces should have earned you a number of links too (hopefully). Make sure that, where relevant, you add internal links from these attention-grabbing pages to your other important pages. 

Middleman Strategy

Beyond that, you should be building links to your important pages consistently. Watch this video to learn how link building works:

Final thoughts

Here’s what our content creation process looks like:

Ahrefs blog content creation process

Does it look scary and complicated? Maybe. 

But we didn’t arrive at this spot right from the get-go. Like you, we were once a small startup. We started with one person creating content, then two, then three, then more. 

Even when we were a one-person team, our content was already making an impact on the industry. So don’t be disheartened by the competition you see ahead of you—great content stands out anywhere. 

Content marketing is a marathon, not a sprint. Don’t expect to create hundreds of content in the first month. You’ll need time to execute your strategy, hire people, and get your process right. 

Commit to it, follow the strategy I’ve laid out, and refine your process. You can do it! 

Any questions or comments about this post? Let me know on Twitter



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Top YouTube Videos, Shorts, And Ads of 2022

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Top YouTube Videos, Shorts, And Ads of 2022

Examining YouTube’s list of the top trending videos and top Shorts of 2022, as well as the YouTube Ads Leaderboard: 2022 year-end-wrap-up can teach content marketers, content creators, and digital advertisers some important lessons that they can apply in 2023.

But, it helps if you have a secret decoder ring to decipher why there are three lists – and why each one uses a different methodology to come up with the rankings.

YouTube unveiled its first list of the 10 most-watched YouTube videos back in December 2010. Unfortunately, that list taught many marketers that “view count” was the only metric that mattered.

But, I got my secret decoder ring back in October 2012, when YouTube started adjusting the ranking of videos in YouTube search results to reward engaging videos that kept viewers watching.

In other words, YouTube replaced “view count” with “watch time.”

This was a significant shift, because “watch time” gives you a sense of what content viewers actually watch, as opposed to videos that they click on and then abandon.

In December 2012, YouTube shifted from unveiling its 10 “most-watched” videos of the year to unveiling its “top trending videos,” based on time spent watching, sharing, commenting, liking, and other factors.

In other words, “watch time” and “engagements” were now the metrics that mattered.

Today, YouTube’s algorithm rewards “viewer satisfaction.”

In other words, YouTube doesn’t pay attention to videos; it pays attention to viewers.

So, rather than trying to make videos that’ll make an algorithm happy, focus on making videos that make your viewers happy.

This brings us to YouTube’s lists of “trending videos” and “top Shorts” for 2022.

To learn important lessons that can be applied in 2023, we need to realize that YouTube’s discovery system uses both absolute and relative watch time as signals when deciding audience engagement.

Ultimately, YouTube wants both short and long videos to succeed, so relative watch time is more important for short videos, and absolute watch time is more important for longer videos.

Top 7 Trending Videos Of 2022

1. “So Long Nerds“ By Technoblade (6:32 long, 88.3 million Views, 10.2 million engagements)

In this moving tribute, the father of beloved Minecraft creator Technoblade reads a farewell letter from his son.

The gamer lost his battle with cancer in June, but his legacy remains on YouTube.

2. “Watch The Uncensored Moment Will Smith Smacks Chris Rock On Stage At The Oscars, Drops F-bomb” By Guardian News (1:24 long, 104 million Views, and 1.8 million engagements)

It was the smack heard ‘round the world: Academy Award winner Will Smith went off-script and slapped Chris Rock, live on-stage, at the film industry’s most prestigious event.

3. “Hi, I’m Dream” By Dream (5:42 long, 48.5 million Views, and 4.7 million engagements)

Dream’s ingenuity within Minecraft has led him to become a top creator with a devoted fanbase.

But no one knew what he looked like IRL, until now.

4. “ Dre, Snoop Dogg, Eminem, Mary J. Blige, Kendrick Lamar & 50 Cent Full Pepsi Sb Lvi Halftime Show” By NFL (14:41 long, 146 million Views, and 3.5 million engagements)

Lose yourself in this epic Super Bowl halftime show packed with some of the biggest artists in hip-hop history: Dr. Dre, Snoop, Eminem, Mary J. Blige, Kendrick Lama, and 50 Cent.

5. “I Built Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory!” By Mrbeast (17:01 long, 132 million Views, and 5.1 million engagements)

In a “Willy Wonka” inspired warehouse, MrBeast challenges contestants to traverse a chocolate river, climb a candy wall, compete in confection-themed games, and indulge in their sweetest fantasies.

6. “Pranks Destroy Scam Callers- Glitterbomb Payback” By Mark Rober (26:41 long, 55.9 million Views, and 2.2 million engagements).

Engineer Mark Rober exacts dazzling revenge on a scam call center in the latest version of his glitterbomb series.

7. “Being Not Straight” By Jaiden Animations (15:22 long, 17.8 million Views, and 1.7 million engagements)

In this coming-out video, Jaiden Animations depicts a personal journey from adolescence to adulthood, sharing how they discovered their sexual identity along the way.

Top 7 Shorts Of 2022

1. “Diver Cracks Egg At 45 Ft Deep #Shorts” By Shangerdanger (0:56 long, 251 million Views, and 12.3 million engagements)

The ocean floor is a mysterious place. It’s full of unknown sea creatures, strange plants, and…chicken eggs?!

Join Shangerdanger as he cracks up the internet and dives egg-first into the blue depths.

2. “Sarah Trust Challenges” By Hingaflips (0:31 long, 142 million Views, and 6.5 million engagements)

Better than parkour? This is Trampwall: an epic sport where acrobats defy gravity and leap off a wall, onto a trampoline, to pull off mind-blowing aerial stunts.

3. “Come With Me To Shave My Fluffy Dog! #Doggrooming #Grooming #Goldendoodle” By Brodie That Dood (0:52 long, 108 million Views, and 6.8 million engagements)

For years, his long fluffy fur has made Brodie one of the most iconic dogs on YouTube. So, the heartbreak was real when it was decided that he needed a close trim.

4. “Dave and Busters Bet Me 1000 Tickets I Couldn’t Do This…” By Chris Ivan (0:59 long, 83.6 million Views, and 6.3 million engagements).

No one does trick shots like creator Chris Ivan. In this Short, he attempts to land a plunger on a Dave & Buster’s sign.

The prize? 1,000 tickets … if he can pull it off.

5. “That Gap Between Your Car Seat and Center Console” By Jay & Sharon (0:58 long, 182 million Views, and 6.4 million engagements)

We’ve all lost something in the dreaded gap between the car seat and the center console.

In this comedic sketch, creators Jay & Sharon show us what’s really going on down there.

6. “Welcome To The Stomach #Shorts” By Adrian Bliss (0:34 long, 118 million Views, and 7.0 million engagements)

In this bite-sized skit, witty creator Adrian Bliss brings to life all the characters trying to gain entrance – and party in – his space-limited stomach.

7. “This Magic Trick Explained (America’s Got Talent)” By Zack D. Films (0:34 long, 97.4 million Views, and 5.6 million engagements).

How did he do it? The judges of “America’s Got Talent” were confounded by this magic trick.

But not internet-sleuth Zack D., who unveils its clever secret.

Top 7 YouTube Ads Of 2022

Meanwhile, YouTube uses an entirely different methodology to determine the top YouTube ad for its 2022 year-end wrap-up Leaderboard. This makes sense.

The top ads are generally the ones with the biggest budgets, which drive up view counts, but not always engagements.

1. “Amazon’s Big Game Commercial: Mind Reader” By Amazon (1:31 long, 69.7 million Views, and 25,700 engagements)

The creative agency for this ad was Lucky Generals and the media agency was IPG – Rufus.

The ad’s description asks, “Is Alexa reading minds a good idea? No. No, it is not.”

2. “Welcome To Clan Capital! Clash Of Clans New Update!” By Clash Of Clans (1:20 long, 52.9 million Views, and 212,000 engagements)

The creative agency was Psyop, and the media agency was in-house.

The ad’s description says,

“Welcome to the ultimate clan destination! A place where you and your clan can BUILD and BATTLE together! A place called CLAN CAPITAL!”

3. “Goal Of The Century X BTS | Yet To Come (Hyundai Ver.) Official Music Video” By Hyundaiworldwide (4:08 long, 40.5 million Views, and 886,000 engagements)

The ad’s description says,

“Our ‘Goal of the Century’ can’t be achieved by one individual alone, but we can achieve it if we all join forces and unite.

Just like football players come together as a team to score goals, we aim to use the power of football to go forward together in pursuit of the greatest goal – ‘A united world for sustainability.’”

4. “Harry Potter 20th Anniversary: Return To Hogwarts | Official Trailer | HBO Max” By HBO Max (1:58 long, 27.3 million Views, and 739,000 engagements)

The creative agency was in-house, and the media agency was Hearts & Science.

The ad’s description says,

“Harry Potter 20th Anniversary: Return to Hogwarts invites fans on a magical first-person journey through one of the most beloved film franchises of all time as it reunites Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint, Emma Watson, and other esteemed cast members and filmmakers across all eight Harry Potter films for the first time to celebrate the anniversary of the franchise’s first film, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone.”

5. “Introducing iPhone 14 Pro | Apple” by Apple (4:20 long, 23.8 million views, and 571,000 engagements)

The ad’s description asks, “What lies beyond a traditional smartphone? Let’s find out. This is iPhone 14 Pro.”

6. All of Us Are Dead | Official Trailer | Netflix” by Netflix (2:35 long, 22.6 million views, and 518,000 engagements)

The creative agency was The Refinery, and the media agency was in-house. The ad’s description says,

“All of us will die. There is no hope.” The school turned into a bloody battleground and our friends into worst enemies. Who will make it out alive?”

7. Sally’s Seashells (Extended) | Big Game Commercial 2022“ by Squarespace (1:07 long, 21.6 million views, and 67,600 engagements)

The media agency was in-house. The ad’s description says,

“See everything that Sally sells in this extended cut of our 2022 Big Game commercial. Starring Zendaya as Sally and narrated by andré 3000.”

Most Important Lesson That Marketers Can Apply In 2023

Looking back at YouTube’s lists of top trending videos, top Shorts, and top ads for 2022, there is a meta-lesson that marketers can learn: one size does not fit all.

Different metrics matter when measuring different types of video, and different types of ads are better for different marketing objectives.

Or, as the British say, “There are horses for courses.”

Now, that’s a lesson that all of us can apply in 2023, and beyond.

More resources:


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Meta Reinstates Trump to Facebook & Instagram

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Meta Reinstates Trump to Facebook & Instagram

Meta announced that the suspension of former president Trump from Facebook and Instagram will be lifted within a few weeks, with “guardrails” in place to discourage repeat offenses.

2021 Suspension of Trump

Meta indefinitely suspended the account of then-president Trump after he praised the people who engaged in anti-government violence that ended in several deaths.

The suspension was reviewed by the Meta Oversight Board who concluded that the indefinite suspension was inconsistent with rules in place for dealing with policy violations.

The Oversight Board wrote:

“…it was not appropriate for Facebook to impose the indeterminate and standardless penalty of indefinite suspension. Facebook’s normal penalties include removing the violating content, imposing a time-bound period of suspension, or permanently disabling the page and account.

The Board insists that Facebook review this matter to determine and justify a proportionate response that is consistent with the rules that are applied to other users of its platform.”

Facebook responded to the board that the suspension will last for two years beginning on January 7, 2021 after which the suspension would be reconsidered.

The indefinite suspension remained in place until the announcement that it will be lifted in the weeks following January 25, 2022, just over two years after the suspension.

Why the Suspension of Trump was Lifted

The review of the suspension was timed for two years after the imposition of the original suspension on January 7, 2021. This was by agreement with the Oversight Board.

Meta undertook a review of whether Trump continued to pose a risk to public safety and decided that enough had changed to lower the risk.

The explanation of the decision indicated that multiple factors were considered:

“To assess whether the serious risk to public safety that existed in January 2021 has sufficiently receded, we have evaluated the current environment according to our Crisis Policy Protocol, which included looking at the conduct of the US 2022 midterm elections, and expert assessments on the current security environment.

Our determination is that the risk has sufficiently receded, and that we should therefore adhere to the two-year timeline we set out.

As such, we will be reinstating Mr. Trump’s Facebook and Instagram accounts in the coming weeks. However, we are doing so with new guardrails in place to deter repeat offenses.”

Facebook Public Figure Penalty Guardrails

Meta published updated policies, Restricting accounts by public figures during civil unrest, that describe the new protocols for dealing with public figures who violate Meta guidelines.

The updated rules apply to both Facebook and Instagram.

The new policies outline tiered penalties increasing in severity depending on the content violations.

Meta explained that the goal of the penalties were to deter violations of their policies.

The penalties last from one to thirty days to as long as two years for especially egregious violations.

Three factors will be considered to determine the severity of the penalty:

  1. “The severity of the violation and the public figure’s history on Facebook or Instagram, including current and past violations.
  2. The public figure’s potential influence over, and relationship to, the individuals engaged in violence.
  3. The severity of the violence and any related physical harm.”

 

Heightened Penalties

Public figures who return after a suspension will face heightened penalties, including disabling the account of any public figure that fails to respond to repeated warnings.

Meta’s rules targets QAnon content and outlines specific measures they will take that will limit the reach of penalized public figures.

That means anyone who is following the restricted account of a public figure will not see content posted to those accounts, plus the removal of reshare buttons.

“Our updated protocol also addresses content that does not violate our Community Standards but that contributes to the sort of risk that materialized on January 6, such as content that delegitimizes an upcoming election or is related to QAnon.

We may limit the distribution of such posts, and for repeated instances, may temporarily restrict access to our advertising tools.

This step would mean that content would remain visible on Mr. Trump’s account but would not be distributed in people’s Feeds, even if they follow Mr. Trump.

We may also remove the reshare button from such posts, and may stop them being recommended or run as ads.”

Response to Reinstatement of Trump

Facebook’s announcement stated that they expect to be criticized but that the decision was guided by guidelines set down by the Oversight Board.

The response on social media was predictably passionate, with congressman Adam Schiff characterizing the reinstatement as Facebook having “caved.”

Others accused Facebook of having no rules or procedures even though Meta’s decision was based on rules and procedures.

Many of the top tweets commenting on the Trump reinstatement commented that Facebook’s decision was based on greed while others lamented the lack of consequences from Trump’s action, even though he was punished with a two year suspension.

Read Meta’s Announcement:

Ending Suspension of Trump’s Accounts With New Guardrails to Deter Repeat Offenses

 

 



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Wayback Machine: 5 Alternatives To Try

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Wayback Machine: 5 Alternatives To Try

Much of the web is ephemeral.

Web pages exist until they don’t. The content on them exists until it’s updated – and then it’s gone.

Unless you go digging in an archive.

Archiving the web is important for cultural and anthropological research. It’s also helpful for business reasons, like competitive analysis. It can even help document or monitor political processes.

Your particular reason for seeking archived content might determine which service works best.

The Wayback Machine is the most commonly known archive.

Screenshot, https://archive.org/web/, January 2023.

The Internet Archive is a nonprofit organization, and the Wayback Machine is the web version of its archive, containing an absolutely massive amount of data.

You can request that it save a webpage in its current state, as well as make use of tools, like an API.

As huge as the Wayback Machine archive is, it’s likely not 100% complete. If you’re having trouble finding something specific or wondering if there are alternatives with more features, these alternatives might help.

I won’t be going over paid SaaS subscriptions, as I don’t consider a paid service a true alternative to a free one provided by a nonprofit.

Let’s go!

1. The Memento Project

Memento is an exceptional alternative to the Wayback Machine because it aggregates several different sources, including the Wayback Machine itself.

On the website, you can access archives from several sources by using the Time Travel tool.

Wayback Machine: 5 Alternatives To TryScreenshot, http://timetravel.mementoweb.org/, January 2023.

This is the first distinction that makes Memento so cool, and it includes some of the other archives on this list, too. That means it’s a customizable experience and likely one of the most complete.

Memento’s other distinct feature is the Chrome extension that allows you to select the date on which you’d like to view your current page. This brings the tool to where you’re browsing instead of making you put a URL into a form.

You can also create a snapshot of a page and generate a link to it that won’t break. This is particularly useful for citation.

If you’re concerned a page might disappear, or the content might get updated, but you want to use the information, creating one of these links ensures that people will be able to see your original source.

2. Archive.today

Archive.today is another “snapshot” tool. It allows you to save a link to a page as it currently exists.

Following the link will send users to an unalterable version of the page.

Wayback Machine: 5 Alternatives To TryScreenshot, https://archive.ph/, January 2023.

It also features some relatively advanced search queries you can perform on domains and URLs to find snapshots that have been saved with the tool.

This tool also features a Chrome extension as well as an Android app.

Searches on Memento can include results from Archive.today.

3. WebCite

WebCite has powerful applications for authors, journalists, academics, and publishers.

It offers a variety of ways to build and present the archived pages and the URLs.

Wayback Machine: 5 Alternatives To TryScreenshot, rhttps://webcitation.org/, January 2023.

Unfortunately, at the time of publishing, it doesn’t appear to be taking new requests. But you can still access already archived pages. When and if it starts accepting requests again, it’s a very useful tool for that.

Its most powerful feature for authors and publishers is the ability to upload a manuscript directly to the website.

The tool will scan every link in an uploaded manuscript and automatically create archives of each of the pages linked to as they currently exist. This saves a lot of time if you’ve used a lot of website citations.

If you’ve created content that you want people to be able to create snapshots of, then you can add a specific WebCite link to your page that users can click on. This embeds archive functionality into your page, saving users time if they decide to use your work as a citation.

4. GitHub

GitHub is a development and collaboration platform that also prioritizes public projects and open-source code.

It documents and archives open-source code and programs, and is searchable by other archives such as the Wayback Machine.

Wayback Machine: 5 Alternatives To TryScreenshot, https://github.com/explore, January 2023.

But, if you’re looking for something related to code or software development, it might be easier to go straight to GitHub instead of using another archive service.

While it does have paid business plans, GitHub is free for the average user. It even offers 15GB of storage and some computing power in its cloud developer environment for free for your personal use.

5. Country-Specific Web Archives

Several countries run their own web archives.

These can be particularly helpful alternatives to the Wayback Machine if you’re looking for a website highly relevant to a specific location, or the culture of a country.

More focused archives might have more complete information if you’re having trouble finding it elsewhere, although again, I want to mention that the first alternative in this list, Memento, pulls from several different country-specific archives.

I should also note that many archives specific to a country, region, educational institution, or individual library are partnered with Archive-it, a service provider built by The Internet Archive (makers of the Wayback Machine).

They curate specific collections based on relevance, but all Archive-it partners leverage the same source: The Internet Archive.

These are a few of the country-specific web archives:

Conclusion

When you’re looking for alternatives to the Wayback Machine, you might not realize that a great many of them, in part or in whole, are powered by the same archive.

But there are other services out there you can use. Some have more helpful features, depending on what your goals are.

This isn’t an exhaustive list of alternative tools, but it’s most of the easily accessible tools for the average user.

Others require monthly payments, and some are free to academic and legal institutions, but not to individual users.

I chose to focus on the best of the tools that you could go and use right now with no fuss.

More resources:


Featured Image: Studio Romantic/Shutterstock



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