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In the Wake of the Trump Era, Facebook is Taking Key Steps to Evolve its Content Approach

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A few weeks back, when Facebook and Twitter sparked a new round of controversy by banning then US President Donald Trump, I noted that the important thing to focus on within this process was not the banning of Trump itself, but the lessons learned from the Trump era, and how the platforms look to evolve their approaches as a result.

And last week, at Facebook, we saw the first key hints of just how the platform is indeed looking to adjust, with two potentially critical updates relating to its post-Trump shift.

First, we got the initial rulings from Facebook’s new, independent Oversight Board, which ruled on five cases, and laid the foundation for how it will look to influence Facebook policy moving forward.

As per the Oversight Board:

We believe the first case decisions by the Oversight Board demonstrate our commitment to holding Facebook to account, by standing up for the interests of users and communities around the world, and by beginning to reshape Facebook’s approach to content moderation. This is the start of a process that will take time, and we look forward to sharing our progress through the Board’s many subsequent case decisions.”

Indeed, in four of its initial rulings, the Oversight Board overruled Facebook’s original enforcement decisions, while it also criticized Facebook’s approach in all cases. That, in itself, could lead to improvement in Facebook’s process – but more importantly, the Oversight Board’s rulings also largely aligned with what human rights organizations have been calling for for years with respect to Facebook’s approach.

That, in essence, could see Facebook regulated by proxy. While it’s not official regulation, as such, via a government-appointed body, if the Oversight Board is able to influence Facebook’s approach, in line with broader community expectation, then the result could be the same, which would be a massive shift, and could help Facebook avoid further political scrutiny.

If Facebook does change its approach. The Social Network says that it will honor the Oversight Board’s decisions on individual cases, but it’s not as committal on the Board’s suggested policy revisions. Facebook says that it will take the board’s advice on such under consideration, but it won’t be held to those as updates, necessarily.

It’s impossible to know at this stage how influential the Board will ultimately be, but these first cases do suggest that it could end up being a major impetus for change at The Social Network, and may even show a way forward for more effective regulation across the entire social media sector.

It’s worth noting, too, that Facebook’s VP of Global Affairs Nick Clegg also reiterated the company’s call for a new approach to independent social platform regulation. Maybe, the Oversight Board will become the template for change in this respect.

The other significant update last week was Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg noting that Facebook will no longer recommend civic and political groups to its users, as part of a broader effort to lessen political debate within the app.

As Zuckerberg said on Facebook’s Q4 earnings call:

“One of the top pieces of feedback that we’re hearing from our community right now is that people don’t want politics and fighting to take over their experience on our services.”

Whether Facebook follows through with this – and how hard it actually tries to squeeze out divisive political content – we’ll have to wait and see, but if Zuckerberg is serious, and Facebook wants to get rid of such debate, that could also be a major shift for The Social Network.

The pervading view over time has been that Facebook doesn’t really want to get rid of divisive political content, no matter how loudly it might state such intent publicly, because such content sparks discussion, which then prompts even more engagement, and keeps people on platform for longer.

That, seemingly, is what the daily listing of the most engaging posts on the platform generally indicates.

But maybe, that’s no longer the case.

As per Facebook’s latest results, its daily active user count is actually flatlining in the US, which could support what Zuckerberg’s now saying – that users have had enough of the political debates on the platform, which could even be turning people away.

Facebook wants active engagement, but not at the expense of overall users. If the balance is shifting, and more people are using Facebook less because of that content, maybe the time has come for Facebook to de-emphasize those posts.

Which it can do. In the days after the 2020 US election, and amid rising political tensions, Facebook deliberately reduced the reach of more partisan, divisive news outlets on the platform, in favor of more reputable providers to ensure improved balance in political news coverage. This lead to what Facebook staffers internally referred to as the ‘nicer’ News Feed, reducing the intensity of debate and division across the board, while also keeping people who rely on the platform for news adequately informed.

Several staffers reportedly asked if they could keep the nicer feed beyond the post-election period. Perhaps that’s now where Zuckerberg is leaning.

Make no mistake, I would credit this change in approach to what’s best for business, not a sudden attack of conscience. But if the result is a less divisive, less angst-enducing platform – which we now know has the power to spark full-scale civil disorder – then that, indeed, is still a positive outcome.

Again, there’s a long way to go, there’s a lot to be seen before we can assume that Facebook is actually for real about changing its ways. But these are potentially important Indicators for internal change, and a new way forward for the world’s largest social media platform.

Socialmediatoday.com

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8 Core Disciplines for a Successful Social Media Marketing Strategy [Infographic]

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8 Core Disciplines for a Successful Social Media Marketing Strategy [Infographic]

Are you looking to create an effective social media marketing strategy? Want to learn the core disciplines you need to pay attention to?

The team from MDG Advertising share their social media tips in this infographic.

They break things down as follows:

  • Strategy
  • Auditing
  • Technology
  • Paid media
  • Content development
  • Customer response
  • Compliance and risk assessment
  • Measurement

Check out the infographic for more detail.

A version of this post was first published on the Red Website Design blog.

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Five Ways To Make Your Startup Stand Out From The Competition

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Five Ways To Make Your Startup Stand Out From The Competition

Making your business stand out from others in a crowded marketplace is key to its success. High-quality products and services, a smart pricing strategy, and effective marketing are just the basics. The most successful entrepreneurs have a few extra tricks that separate their business from the rest of the pack.

Tell a strong story

Businesses need to do two things to succeed; be relevant and distinctive. As Steven Hess, founding partner at WhiteCap, explains, doing one without the other will lead to failure. “Being relevant on its own leads to a focus on price and an inevitable sublimation into the sea of sameness, and customers will not look for you,” he says. “Being distinctive without solving a problem leads to gimmickry and longer-term weakness. You have to do both, and one way of uniting the two is with a strong story.”

This could focus on the founder’s story, what led them to set out on their business journey, how they identified the problem they are solving, and how they are solving it uniquely. Stories can also be drawn from customers; how are they using your products or services? What problem does it solve for them?

“You also need to look at how your competitors are presenting themselves and then present yourself in the opposite way,” says Hess. “This will feel uncomfortable, and most businesses fail at this point. Why do ads for cars, financial services, estate agents, etc., look the same? It’s because most of us don’t want to stand out. We’re afraid to fail and be seen to fail. But if we are not being seen, being distinctive and solving a real problem, we’ve already failed.”

Focus your messaging on customer needs

A company’s messaging has to be focused on its potential customer’s biggest wants and needs. It should clarify what people will get if they buy from you, what transformation they will see, and how they will feel afterward. “Most importantly, it should communicate what people will miss out on if they don’t buy from your startup,” says business growth consultant Charlie Day. “When you shift your messaging from simply trying to grow a business and make money to focusing on your customer’s biggest wants and needs, the sales and growth will come, and it will set you apart from others.”

Target an underrepresented audience

This can be a powerful way for startups to stand out. “By focusing on a group that larger companies often overlook, they can differentiate themselves and appeal to a unique and untapped market,” says Vladislav Podolyako, founder and CEO of Folderly. “And by providing solutions to the specific needs and challenges of this audience, startups can establish a strong reputation and build a loyal customer base.”

For example, a fitness startup targeting older adults can stand out by offering specialized classes, products, or resources. By providing solutions to the physical limitations of older adults, the startup can differentiate itself from other companies, address the unique fitness challenges faced by older adults, and build a loyal customer base.

However, as Podolyako points out, this strategy must be carefully thought out. He says: “The startup may be associated with an older audience only, so you should work with PR agencies to get the positioning right and potentially think about creating a sub-brand.”

Differentiate your social media strategy

A unique voice and communication style will make you stand out on social media. However, it’s not just what you say but what you do that makes the difference. “If everyone is offering ‘how to’ tips on LinkedIn, create some short form behind-the-scenes videos. If everyone is doing special offers on Facebook, publish some tip-based stories,” says Catherine Warrilow, managing director of Daysout.com. “Make yourself accessible for customer support on the social media channels used by your audience, for example, via What’s App or Messenger.”

Respond promptly to customer calls

Making it easy for customers to contact you and get a response is vital for customer engagement and retention. Yet, businesses are surprisingly poor at answering their phones, listing phone numbers on their websites, and responding to voicemails. It’s a massive turn-off for customers, as a survey by global communications company Moneypenny revealed, with unanswered phone calls topping the list of consumer gripes, cited by 43% of respondents, followed by annoying hold music (35%).

Joanna Swash, Group CEO of Moneypenny, says: “Customers use the phone when they have an urgent or sensitive issue to discuss, so companies cannot afford to provide a poor call experience; business will be taken elsewhere. By mastering the art of call handling, businesses can keep their customers happy and loyal and boost the bottom line in the process.”

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Twitter Experiments with Reply Filters, Timeline Controls, and the Capacity to Search Your Tweet Likes

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Twitter Experiments with Reply Filters, Timeline Controls, and the Capacity to Search Your Tweet Likes

Amid the various large-scale changes at Twitter, the platform is also working on some smaller tweaks and updates, which may or may not ever get released, but could provide valuable functionality for many users.

First off, Twitter’s testing the ability to search through your Likes, so you can find out who, specifically, has liked your tweets.

That could help you glean more context when reaching out to someone, or just another way to understand who’s responding to your tweets.

And it could be particularly valuable as a research tool for marketers in understanding their audience and who they’re reaching with their tweets.

Twitter’s also testing a new way to filter your replies, which could be handy if you get a lot of responses to a tweet.

Tweet reply sorting

I mean, I’m not sure how many people are getting so many replies to their tweets that they need a filtering option, but for those that are, this could be a simple way to ensure you’re staying up on the most relevant responses and responders, to better manage your engagement.

Finally, Twitter’s also experimenting with new timeline settings, which would provide more control over your timeline and pinned lists.

Twitter timeline controls

Note also, in the middle screen, that Twitter’s developing an option that would enable you to hide your tweet view counts, which would provide another way to manage your activity in the app.

As noted, all of these are in test mode, with Twitter engineer Andrea Conway posting them for public opinion, before exploring further development. But they could be handy, and while they’re not game-changers as such (which may mean they get less priority), smaller tweaks and updates like this could be significant for certain users, and could make it easier to manage your tweet activity.

We’ll keep you updated on any progress.



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