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Social Shorts: LinkedIn Events, Facebook Story Ad templates and Pinterest Lite

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This collection of social media marketing and new hire announcements is a compilation of the past week’s briefs from our daily Marketing Land newsletter. Click here to subscribe and get more news like this delivered to your inbox every morning.

Event planning on LinkedIn. LinkedIn has rolled out a new Events feature that makes it easy to create and share event announcements. The feature can be found in the “Community” panel on the  left side of the newsfeed, and allows users to enter their event description, date, time, venue and invite connections using filters such as location, company, industry and school. “You’ll be able to seamlessly create and join professional events, invite your connections, manage your event, have conversations with other attendees, and stay in touch online after the event ends,” writes Ajay Datta, LinkedIn India’s head of product. Once an event is posted, users can track attendees, post updates and interact with the users they have invited. Users who have accepted an event invite on the platform will be able to see their events under the “My Network” tab.

Twitter defends its policies for world leaders. Twitter is defending its policies for allowing content from world leaders that may otherwise be prohibited. After listing enforcement scenarios for why it may remove a Tweet from a political figure, such as “promotion of terrorism” and “Clear and direct threats of violence against an individual,” the company goes on to say, “We will err on the side of leaving the content up if there is a clear public interest in doing so.” The company said it understands why users want clear yes/no decisions regarding what’s allowed, but that it’s not that simple: “Our mission is to provide a forum that enables people to be informed and to engage their leaders directly.”

Reddit pushes back against lawmakers. On Wednesday, executives from Reddit, Google and the Electronic Frontier Foundation took questions from Congress about possible modifications to the 1996 Communications Decency Act currently being considered by lawmakers, specifically Section 230 of the law which gives social media platforms immunity from being held responsible for content posted by users. “Lawmakers from both major political parties have said Congress could make additional changes to the law to restrict companies’ immunity,” reports Reuters. Reddit CEO Steve Huffman published his comments to Congress on Reddit’s Upvoted blog, explaining why Section 230 is critical to the company: “Reddit uses a different model of content moderation from our peers — one that empowers communities — and this model relies on Section 230. I’m here because even small changes to the law will have outsized consequences for our business, our communities, and what little competition remains in our industry.”

An easier way to create Story Ads. Facebook is launching customizable templates for Story ads that can be used across Facebook, Instagram and Messenger. The templates allow advertisers to choose from a variety of layouts once they have uploaded their creative assets to Ads Manager, and come with editing tools to select background color, text and cropping options. “We’re making it easier for businesses of any size to create for fullscreen vertical stories placements,” writes Facebook on its business blog. Streetbees reported a 40% increase in incremental app installs and a 29% reduction in cost per incremental app click when using the new templates.

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Instagram launches new data-security features. Instagram is giving users more control over their data with a new feature that allows them to remove third-party apps connected to their account. Under the account “Settings” page in the app, users will be able to click on “Security” to find the “Apps and Websites” option. From there, users can remove any third-party apps to keep them from accessing their data. The social media platform is also launching an authorization screen that will list all the information a third-party app is requesting to access. Users will have the option to cancel access to their data directly from the authorization screen. Unfortunately, it may take some time before all users have access to the new features — Instagram reports they will be rolling out over the next six months.

Reddit opens up its content to Snapchat. Reddit announced a new Snapchat integration, making it easy for users who have Snapchat downloaded on their mobile device to share Reddit posts on the app. “Simply tap the ‘share’ icon on an image, text or link-based post on Reddit’s iOS app and select the Snapchat option. Then choose a few friends to send the post to, or add it to your Story,” writes Reddit on its Upvoted Blog. Once posted to Snapchat, the content will include a sticker with the Reddit logo and source information. This is the first content-sharing integration for Reddit. Sharable content is limited to posts from “Safe for Work” communities and communities in good standing on the platform. At launch, the feature is only available on iOS, but will be rolling out on Android devices soon.

More bad news for Facebook Libra. Things are not looking good for Facebook’s Libra cryptocurrency project. Last week, PayPal announced it was pulling its participation in the network, and now eBay, Stripe, Visa and Mastercard are following suit. According to Gizmodo, the only two remaining payment platform partners are Mercado Pago and PayU. Visa said it would continue to evaluate the project and that its ultimate decision would based on the Libra Association’s ability to meet regulatory expectations.

“Visa’s continued interest in Libra stems from our belief that well-regulated blockchain-based networks could extend the value of secure digital payments to a greater number of people and places, particularly in emerging and developing markets,” a Visa spokesperson told CNBC. When Facebook initially launched the Libra Association, it had 28 companies that had agreed to be part of the group. That number is now at 22 — with each member agreeing to pay a $10 million fee to be part of the association and have voting rights. The Libra Association is scheduled to meet next week in Geneva to review the charter and appoint board members, reports CNBC.

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Pinterest Lite. Pinterest is taking efforts to make sure its platform is available to users in emerging markets. The company launched its Pinterest Lite app last week, offering users an app that downloads faster and takes up less space on their mobile device. This is the second go at offering a Lite version of the app — according to TechCrunch, a Pinterest Lite app was pulled from Google Play last year. The latest Lite app is the result of a project that Pinterest started in July of 2017 when it formed a team tasked with rewriting its mobile web app from scratch as a progressive web app, reports TechCrunch. The new app is designed to offer a better user experience for people in low-bandwidth environments on limited data plans.

Facebook holiday preparations. Facebook is rolling out new Story Ad templates across Facebook, Instagram and Messenger in time for holiday promotions. “We know businesses have limited resources and time, and it may not always be possible to create new assets for ad campaigns. So we’re making it easier for businesses of all sizes to create vertical, full-screen assets,” writes Facebook on its News Blog. For Messenger, the company is rolling out instant replies in the coming weeks so that businesses can automatically respond to customer communications and create saved replies for commonly asked questions. It is also making it possible to set up an “away message” in Messenger for when a business is closed.

New Twitter app for Mac users. After sunsetting its Mac desktop client last year, Twitter has launched a new Twitter app for Macs, but it is only available on the latest version of macOS Catalina. Twitter reported in June its plans to take advantage of Apple’s Mac Catalyst, a toolset that allows developers to bring iPad apps to the Mac desktop, reports TechCrunch. “Twitter had been one of the more highly anticipated Catalyst apps,” writes TechCrunch, citing that many users were left to rely on third-party apps, like TweetDeck or paid applications like Twitterific 5 or Tweetbot 3, when Twitter stopped offering its Mac desktop app. According to TechCrunch, the new app is free and the interface is consistent with the rest of Twitter’s platform apps, but the timeline doesn’t refresh in real-time.

On the Move

The Minneapolis-based TV ad agency Marketing Architects has hired Marin Suska as its new VP of client growth. Suska was the agency’s former director of media services and is now returning after serving in various marketing roles at multiple agencies, including Haworth Marketing + Media, The Nerdery and Digital River. “Marketing Architects is a different agency than the one I knew working on the media team years ago,” said Suska, “The strategic nature of how this agency does business with clients, the colossal shift from radio to TV, and the greater goals lying ahead all played a role in my interest in returning to be a part of something big.”

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Richard Nicoll has been named chief commerce officer and managing director at Liquid Omnicommerce, a Dubai-based retail consultancy. In his new role, Nicoll will be responsible for driving regional growth and enhancing the agency’s offerings. “He is the real pioneer of shopper marketing in the UAE,” said Liquid Omnicommerce Founder Sachinnn Laala, “With a wealth of experience in highly competitive global markets, the insights he will bring will benefit our clients tremendously.” Before joining Liquid Commerce, Nicoll served as the chief shopper marketing officer for Publicis Communications in Asia. Marketsmith Inc., a woman-owned marketing agency in New Jersey has added three new hires to its executive team this month.

Jo Maggiore has joined the agency as Creative Director, Samantha Foy has been named senior director of digital media and Rachel Schulties is the new VP of client performance. “We have brought in strong, accomplished women who each bring something unique to us, but all embrace data, analytics and modeling,” said Marketsmith President Rob Bochicchio, “More importantly, these leaders have made their mark with great clients and bring that expertise to Marketsmith to take outcomes for our client partners to a whole new level.” Before joining the agency, Maggiore was the director of digital creative at GNC. Foy previously worked at Active International and Schulties was in managed services at Digital Media Solution.


About The Author

Amy Gesenhues is a senior editor for Third Door Media, covering the latest news and updates for Marketing Land, Search Engine Land and MarTech Today. From 2009 to 2012, she was an award-winning syndicated columnist for a number of daily newspapers from New York to Texas. With more than ten years of marketing management experience, she has contributed to a variety of traditional and online publications, including MarketingProfs, SoftwareCEO, and Sales and Marketing Management Magazine. Read more of Amy’s articles.

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Google December Product Reviews Update Affects More Than English Language Sites? via @sejournal, @martinibuster

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Google’s Product Reviews update was announced to be rolling out to the English language. No mention was made as to if or when it would roll out to other languages. Mueller answered a question as to whether it is rolling out to other languages.

Google December 2021 Product Reviews Update

On December 1, 2021, Google announced on Twitter that a Product Review update would be rolling out that would focus on English language web pages.

The focus of the update was for improving the quality of reviews shown in Google search, specifically targeting review sites.

A Googler tweeted a description of the kinds of sites that would be targeted for demotion in the search rankings:

“Mainly relevant to sites that post articles reviewing products.

Think of sites like “best TVs under $200″.com.

Goal is to improve the quality and usefulness of reviews we show users.”

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Google also published a blog post with more guidance on the product review update that introduced two new best practices that Google’s algorithm would be looking for.

The first best practice was a requirement of evidence that a product was actually handled and reviewed.

The second best practice was to provide links to more than one place that a user could purchase the product.

The Twitter announcement stated that it was rolling out to English language websites. The blog post did not mention what languages it was rolling out to nor did the blog post specify that the product review update was limited to the English language.

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Google’s Mueller Thinking About Product Reviews Update

Screenshot of Google's John Mueller trying to recall if December Product Review Update affects more than the English language

Screenshot of Google's John Mueller trying to recall if December Product Review Update affects more than the English language

Product Review Update Targets More Languages?

The person asking the question was rightly under the impression that the product review update only affected English language search results.

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But he asserted that he was seeing search volatility in the German language that appears to be related to Google’s December 2021 Product Review Update.

This is his question:

“I was seeing some movements in German search as well.

So I was wondering if there could also be an effect on websites in other languages by this product reviews update… because we had lots of movement and volatility in the last weeks.

…My question is, is it possible that the product reviews update affects other sites as well?”

John Mueller answered:

“I don’t know… like other languages?

My assumption was this was global and and across all languages.

But I don’t know what we announced in the blog post specifically.

But usually we try to push the engineering team to make a decision on that so that we can document it properly in the blog post.

I don’t know if that happened with the product reviews update. I don’t recall the complete blog post.

But it’s… from my point of view it seems like something that we could be doing in multiple languages and wouldn’t be tied to English.

And even if it were English initially, it feels like something that is relevant across the board, and we should try to find ways to roll that out to other languages over time as well.

So I’m not particularly surprised that you see changes in Germany.

But I also don’t know what we actually announced with regards to the locations and languages that are involved.”

Does Product Reviews Update Affect More Languages?

While the tweeted announcement specified that the product reviews update was limited to the English language the official blog post did not mention any such limitations.

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Google’s John Mueller offered his opinion that the product reviews update is something that Google could do in multiple languages.

One must wonder if the tweet was meant to communicate that the update was rolling out first in English and subsequently to other languages.

It’s unclear if the product reviews update was rolled out globally to more languages. Hopefully Google will clarify this soon.

Citations

Google Blog Post About Product Reviews Update

Product reviews update and your site

Google’s New Product Reviews Guidelines

Write high quality product reviews

John Mueller Discusses If Product Reviews Update Is Global

Watch Mueller answer the question at the 14:00 Minute Mark

[embedded content]

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Survey says: Amazon, Google more trusted with your personal data than Apple is

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survey-says:-amazon,-google-more-trusted-with-your-personal-data-than-apple-is-–-phonearena
 

MacRumors reveals that more people feel better with their personal data in the hands of Amazon and Google than Apple’s. Companies that the public really doesn’t trust when it comes to their personal data include Facebook, TikTok, and Instagram.

The survey asked over 1,000 internet users in the U.S. how much they trusted certain companies such as Facebook, TikTok, Instagram, WhatsApp, YouTube, Google, Microsoft, Apple, and Amazon to handle their user data and browsing activity responsibly.

Amazon and Google are considered by survey respondents to be more trustworthy than Apple

Those surveyed were asked whether they trusted these firms with their personal data “a great deal,” “a good amount,” “not much,” or “not at all.” Respondents could also answer that they had no opinion about a particular company. 18% of those polled said that they trust Apple “a great deal” which topped the 14% received by Google and Amazon.

However, 39% said that they trust Amazon  by “a good amount” with Google picking up 34% of the votes in that same category. Only 26% of those answering said that they trust Apple by “a good amount.” The first two responses, “a great deal” and “a good amount,” are considered positive replies for a company. “Not much” and “not at all” are considered negative responses.

By adding up the scores in the positive categories,

Apple tallied a score of 44% (18% said it trusted Apple with its personal data “a great deal” while 26% said it trusted Apple “a good amount”). But that placed the tech giant third after Amazon’s 53% and Google’s 48%. After Apple, Microsoft finished fourth with 43%, YouTube (which is owned by Google) was fifth with 35%, and Facebook was sixth at 20%.

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Rounding out the remainder of the nine firms in the survey, Instagram placed seventh with a positive score of 19%, WhatsApp was eighth with a score of 15%, and TikTok was last at 12%.

Looking at the scoring for the two negative responses (“not much,” or “not at all”), Facebook had a combined negative score of 72% making it the least trusted company in the survey. TikTok was next at 63% with Instagram following at 60%. WhatsApp and YouTube were both in the middle of the pact at 53% followed next by Google and Microsoft at 47% and 42% respectively. Apple and Amazon each had the lowest combined negative scores at 40% each.

74% of those surveyed called targeted online ads invasive

The survey also found that a whopping 82% of respondents found targeted online ads annoying and 74% called them invasive. Just 27% found such ads helpful. This response doesn’t exactly track the 62% of iOS users who have used Apple’s App Tracking Transparency feature to opt-out of being tracked while browsing websites and using apps. The tracking allows third-party firms to send users targeted ads online which is something that they cannot do to users who have opted out.

The 38% of iOS users who decided not to opt out of being tracked might have done so because they find it convenient to receive targeted ads about a certain product that they looked up online. But is ATT actually doing anything?

Marketing strategy consultant Eric Seufert said last summer, “Anyone opting out of tracking right now is basically having the same level of data collected as they were before. Apple hasn’t actually deterred the behavior that they have called out as being so reprehensible, so they are kind of complicit in it happening.”

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The Financial Times says that iPhone users are being lumped together by certain behaviors instead of unique ID numbers in order to send targeted ads. Facebook chief operating officer Sheryl Sandberg says that the company is working to rebuild its ad infrastructure “using more aggregate or anonymized data.”

Aggregated data is a collection of individual data that is used to create high-level data. Anonymized data is data that removes any information that can be used to identify the people in a group.

When consumers were asked how often do they think that their phones or other tech devices are listening in to them in ways that they didn’t agree to, 72% answered “very often” or “somewhat often.” 28% responded by saying “rarely” or “never.”

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Google’s John Mueller on Brand Mentions via @sejournal, @martinibuster

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Google’s John Mueller was asked if “brand mentions” helped with SEO and rankings. John Mueller explained, in detail, how brand mentions are not anything used at Google.

What’s A Brand Mention?

A brand mention is when one website mentions another website. There is an idea in the SEO community that when a website mentions another website’s domain name or URL that Google will see this and count it the same as a link.

Brand Mentions are also known as an implied link. Much was written about this ten years ago after a Google patent that mentions “implied links” surfaced.

There has never been a solid review of why the idea of “brand mentions” has nothing to do with this patent, but I’ll provide a shortened version later in this article.

John Mueller Discussing Brand Mentions

John Mueller Brand Mentions

John Mueller Brand Mentions

Do Brand Mentions Help With Rankings?

The person asking the question wanted to know about brand mentions for the purpose of ranking. The person asking the question has good reason to ask it because the idea of “brand mentions” has never been definitively reviewed.

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The person asked the question:

“Do brand mentions without a link help with SEO rankings?”

Google Does Not Use Brand Mentions

Google’s John Mueller answered that Google does not use the “brand mentions” for any link related purpose.

Mueller explained:

“From my point of view, I don’t think we use those at all for things like PageRank or understanding the link graph of a website.

And just a plain mention is sometimes kind of tricky to figure out anyway.”

That part about it being tricky is interesting.

He didn’t elaborate on why it’s tricky until later in the video where he says it’s hard to understand the subjective context of a website mentioning another website.

Brand Mentions Are Useful For Building Awareness

Mueller next says that brand mentions may be useful for helping to get the word out about a site, which is about building popularity.

Mueller continued:

“But it can be something that makes people aware of your brand, and from that point of view, could be something where indirectly you might have some kind of an effect from that in that they search for your brand and then …obviously, if they’re searching for your brand then hopefully they find you right away and then they can go to your website.

And if they like what they see there, then again, they can go off and recommend that to other people as well.”

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“Brand Mentions” Are Problematic

Later on at the 58 minute mark another person brings the topic back up and asks how Google could handle spam sites that are mentioning a brand in a negative way.

The person said that one can disavow links but one cannot disavow a “brand mention.”

Mueller agreed and said that’s one of things that makes brand mentions difficult to use for ranking purposes.

John Mueller explained:

“Kind of understanding the almost the subjective context of the mention is really hard.

Is it like a positive mention or a negative mention?

Is it a sarcastic positive mention or a sarcastic negative mention? How can you even tell?

And all of that, together with the fact that there are lots of spammy sites out there and sometimes they just spin content, sometimes they’re malicious with regards to the content that they create…

All of that, I think, makes it really hard to say we can just use that as the same as a link.

…It’s just, I think, too confusing to use as a clear signal.”

Where “Brand Mentions” Come From

The idea of “brand mentions” has bounced around for over ten years.

There were no research papers or patents to support it. “Brand mentions” is literally an idea that someone invented out of thin air.

However the “brand mention” idea took off in 2012 when a patent surfaced that seemed to confirm the idea of brand mentions.

There’s a whole long story to this so I’m just going to condense it.

There’s a patent from 2012 that was misinterpreted in several different ways because most people at the time, myself included, did not read the entire patent from beginning to end.

See also  Ellen Pao calls out Twitter’s ‘public town square’ model as flawed

The patent itself is about ranking web pages.

The structure of most Google patents consist of introductory paragraphs that discuss what the patent is about and those paragraphs are followed by pages of in-depth description of the details.

The introductory paragraphs that explain what it’s about states:

“Methods, systems, and apparatus, including computer programs… for ranking search results.”

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Pretty much nobody read that beginning part of the patent.

Everyone focused on a single paragraph in the middle of the patent (page 9 out of 16 pages).

In that paragraph there is a mention of something called “implied links.”

The word “implied” is only mentioned four times in the entire patent and all four times are contained within that single paragraph.

So when this patent was discovered, the SEO industry focused on that single paragraph as proof that Google uses brand mentions.

In order to understand what an “implied link” is, you have to scroll all the way back up to the opening paragraphs where the Google patent authors describe something called a “reference query” that is not a link but is nevertheless used for ranking purposes just like a link.

What Is A Reference Query?

A reference query is a search query that contains a reference to a URL or a domain name.

The patent states:

“A reference query for a particular group of resources can be a previously submitted search query that has been categorized as referring to a resource in the particular group of resources.”

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Elsewhere the patent provides a more specific explanation:

“A query can be classified as referring to a particular resource if the query includes a term that is recognized by the system as referring to the particular resource.

…search queries including the term “example.com” can be classified as referring to that home page.”

The summary of the patent, which comes at the beginning of the document, states that it’s about establishing which links to a website are independent and also counting reference queries and with that information creating a “modification factor” which is used to rank web pages.

“…determining, for each of the plurality of groups of resources, a respective count of reference queries; determining, for each of the plurality of groups of resources, a respective group-specific modification factor, wherein the group-specific modification factor for each group is based on the count of independent links and the count of reference queries for the group;”

The entire patent largely rests on those two very important factors, a count of independent inbound links and the count of reference queries. The phrases reference query and reference queries are used 39 times in the patent.

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As noted above, the reference query is used for ranking purposes like a link, but it’s not a link.

The patent states:

“An implied link is a reference to a target resource…”

It’s clear that in this patent, when it mentions the implied link, it’s talking about reference queries, which as explained above simply means when people search using keywords and the domain name of a website.

Idea of Brand Mentions Is False

The whole idea of “brand mentions” became a part of SEO belief systems because of how that patent was misinterpreted.

But now you have the facts and know why “brand mentions” is not real thing.

Plus John Mueller confirmed it.

“Brand mentions” is something completely random that someone in the SEO community invented out of thin air.

Citations

Ranking Search Results Patent

Watch John Mueller discuss “brand mentions” at 44:10 Minute Mark and the brand Mentions second part begins at the 58:12 minute mark

[embedded content]

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