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The ‘Facebook Files’ Investigation Highlights Key Concerns in the Platform’s Approach

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the facebook files investigation highlights key concerns in the platforms approach

The biggest social media news story of the week has been ‘The Facebook Files’, a selection of internal documents revealing various investigations into the societal impacts of The Social Network, as reported by The Wall Street Journal.

The full Facebook Files series is available here, and is worth reading for anyone interested in the impacts of social media more broadly, but in summary, the key discoveries of the reports are:

  • Facebook has a system in place which subjects high profile users to a different review process than regular users
  • Facebook-commissioned studies have repeatedly found that Instagram can have harmful mental health impacts on users
  • Facebook’s ‘Family and Friends’ algorithm update in 2018, designed to reduce angst on the platform, actually increased division
  • Facebook is not doing enough to address potential harms it’s causing in developing nations
  • Anti-vaccine activists have used Facebook to sow doubt and spread fear about the COVID-19 vaccine deployment

None of these revelations in themselves are anything knew – everyone who’s done any research into Facebook and its algorithms would be aware of the harms that it can, and has caused over time, and Facebook itself has said that it is addressing all of these elements, and evolving its tools in line with its internal findings.

But what’s interesting about the Facebook Files is the revelation of what Facebook itself actually knows, and what its own data has shown in regards to these impacts, which also suggests that it could be doing more to address such.

Is it hesitating because of concerns over business impacts? That’s the bottom line of the WSJ investigation, that Facebook knows that it’s causing widespread societal harm, and amplifying negative elements, but it’s been slow to act on such because it could hurt usage.

For example, according to the leaked documents, Facebook implement its ‘Friends and Family’ News Feed algorithm update in 2018 in order to amplify engagement between users, and reduce political discussion, which had become an increasingly divisive element in the app. Facebook did this by allocating points for different types of engagement with posts.

Facebook post scoring in algorithm update

As you can see in this overview, Likes were allocated 1 point each, with other reaction types garnering 5 points, along with re-shares, while comments drove much higher value, with ‘significant’ comments earning 30 points (non-significant comments were worth 15 points). The higher the total value of each post, the more likely it would see more reach, as Facebook used this score to determine increased relevance between connections.

The idea was that this would incentivize more discussion, but as you can imagine, the update instead prompted more publishers and media outlets to share increasingly divisive, emotionally-charged posts, in order to incite more comments and reactions, and get higher share scores for their content. Likes were no longer the key driver, Facebook’s change made comments and Reactions (like ‘Angry’) far more valuable, so sparking discussion around political trends actually became more prominent, and exposed more users to such content in their feeds.

Which highlights another of Facebook’s core issues, that it amplifies exposure to political views that you may not have ever known. You might not, for example, have any idea that your former colleague is also a flat-earth conspiracy theorist, but Facebook shows you, which then, inevitably, pushes each person more for or against each issue, essentially prompting more people to take sides.

Facebook knew that this was happening, that the change was causing increased division and argument as a result, its internal research showed it. But did it reverse course on its decision?

According to WSJ, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg resisted calls to change course with the algorithm yet again, because the update had lead to more comments, addressing a longer-term decline in in-app engagement.

Facebook engagement decline

Given that Facebook is used by some 2.9 billion people, and has arguably the largest influence of any platform in history, insights like this are a major concern, as they suggest that Facebook has actively made business-based decisions on issues relating to societal harm. Which, again, is no major surprise – Facebook is, after all, a money-making business. But the influence and power the platform has to guide real-world trends is too significant to ignore such impacts – and that’s only one of the examples highlighted in WSJ’s reporting.

Other revelations relate to Instagram’s impact on young users:

“32% of teen girls said that when they felt bad about their bodies, Instagram made them feel worse […] Teens blame Instagram for increases in the rate of anxiety and depression. This reaction was unprompted and consistent across all groups.”

Instagram is doing more to provide more protection and support over time, but again, the impact, the real world effect here is significant.

Then there’s the way the platform influences people’s responses to key news events, like, say, the COVID-19 vaccine rollout.

41% of comments on English-language vaccine-related posts risked discouraging vaccinations. Users were seeing comments on vaccine-related posts 775 million times a day, and Facebook researchers worried that the large proportion of negative comments could influence perceptions of the vaccine’s safety.”

Unlike most other businesses, Facebook decisions can significantly shift public perception, and lead to real-world harms, on a massive scale.

Again, we know this, but now we also know that Facebook does too.

The concern, moving forward, is how it will move to address such, and whether the approach it’s taken thus far, in working to keep such revelations from the public, and even leaving harmful changes in place to further its business interests, will be how it continues to operate.

We don’t have any insights into how Facebook operates, as it’s is not a public utility. But at the same time, it really is. Some 70% of Americans now rely on the platform for news content, and as these insights show, it has become a key source of influence in many respects.

But at the same time, Facebook is a business. Its intention is to make money, and that will always play a key role in its thinking.

Is that a sustainable path forward for such a massive platform, especially as it continues to expand into new, developing regions, and more immersive technologies?

The Facebook Files raises some key questions, for which we don’t have any real answers as yet.  

You can read The Wall Street Journal’s full ‘Facebook Files’ series here.

Socialmediatoday.com

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12 Proven Methods to Make Money Blogging in 2024

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Make money blogging

 

Make money bloggingThis is a contributed article.

The world of blogging continues to thrive in 2024, offering a compelling avenue for creative minds to share their knowledge, build an audience, and even turn their passion into profit. Whether you’re a seasoned blogger or just starting, there are numerous effective strategies to monetize your blog and achieve financial success. Here, we delve into 12 proven methods to make money blogging in 2024:

1. Embrace Niche Expertise:

Standing out in the vast blogosphere requires focus. Carving a niche allows you to cater to a specific audience with targeted content. This not only builds a loyal following but also positions you as an authority in your chosen field. Whether it’s gardening techniques, travel hacking tips, or the intricacies of cryptocurrency, delve deep into a subject you’re passionate and knowledgeable about. Targeted audiences are more receptive to monetization efforts, making them ideal for success.

2. Content is King (and Queen):

High-quality content remains the cornerstone of any successful blog. In 2024, readers crave informative, engaging, and well-written content that solves their problems, answers their questions, or entertains them. Invest time in crafting valuable blog posts, articles, or videos that resonate with your target audience.

  • Focus on evergreen content: Create content that remains relevant for a long time, attracting consistent traffic and boosting your earning potential.
  • Incorporate multimedia: Spice up your content with captivating images, infographics, or even videos to enhance reader engagement and improve SEO.
  • Maintain consistency: Develop a regular publishing schedule to build anticipation and keep your audience coming back for more.

3. The Power of SEO:

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) ensures your blog ranks high in search engine results for relevant keywords. This increases organic traffic, the lifeblood of any monetization strategy.

  • Keyword research: Use keyword research tools to identify terms your target audience searches for. Strategically incorporate these keywords into your content naturally.
  • Technical SEO: Optimize your blog’s loading speed, mobile responsiveness, and overall technical aspects to improve search engine ranking.
  • Backlink building: Encourage other websites to link back to your content, boosting your blog’s authority in the eyes of search engines.

4. Monetization Magic: Affiliate Marketing

Affiliate marketing allows you to earn commissions by promoting other companies’ products or services. When a reader clicks on your affiliate link and makes a purchase, you get a commission.

  • Choose relevant affiliates: Promote products or services that align with your niche and resonate with your audience.
  • Transparency is key: Disclose your affiliate relationships clearly to your readers and build trust.
  • Integrate strategically: Don’t just bombard readers with links. Weave affiliate promotions naturally into your content, highlighting the value proposition.

5. Display Advertising: A Classic Approach

Display advertising involves placing banner ads, text ads, or other visual elements on your blog. When a reader clicks on an ad, you earn revenue.

  • Choose reputable ad networks: Partner with established ad networks that offer competitive rates and relevant ads for your audience.
  • Strategic ad placement: Place ads thoughtfully, avoiding an overwhelming experience for readers.
  • Track your performance: Monitor ad clicks and conversions to measure the effectiveness of your ad placements and optimize for better results.

6. Offer Premium Content:

Providing exclusive, in-depth content behind a paywall can generate additional income. This could be premium blog posts, ebooks, online courses, or webinars.

  • Deliver exceptional value: Ensure your premium content offers significant value that justifies the price tag.
  • Multiple pricing options: Consider offering tiered subscription plans to cater to different audience needs and budgets.
  • Promote effectively: Highlight the benefits of your premium content and encourage readers to subscribe.

7. Coaching and Consulting:

Leverage your expertise by offering coaching or consulting services related to your niche. Readers who find your content valuable may be interested in personalized guidance.

  • Position yourself as an expert: Showcase your qualifications, experience, and client testimonials to build trust and establish your credibility.
  • Offer free consultations: Provide a limited free consultation to potential clients, allowing them to experience your expertise firsthand.
  • Develop clear packages: Outline different coaching or consulting packages with varying time commitments and pricing structures.

8. The Power of Community: Online Events and Webinars

Host online events or webinars related to your niche. These events offer valuable content while also providing an opportunity to promote other monetization avenues.

  • Interactive and engaging: Structure your online events to be interactive with polls, Q&A sessions, or live chats. Click here to learn more about image marketing with Q&A sessions and live chats.

9. Embrace the Power of Email Marketing:

Building an email list allows you to foster stronger relationships with your audience and promote your content and offerings directly.

  • Offer valuable incentives: Encourage readers to subscribe by offering exclusive content, discounts, or early access to new products.
  • Segmentation is key: Segment your email list based on reader interests to send targeted campaigns that resonate more effectively.
  • Regular communication: Maintain consistent communication with your subscribers through engaging newsletters or updates.

10. Sell Your Own Products:

Take your expertise to the next level by creating and selling your own products. This could be physical merchandise, digital downloads, or even printables related to your niche.

  • Identify audience needs: Develop products that address the specific needs and desires of your target audience.
  • High-quality offerings: Invest in creating high-quality products that offer exceptional value and user experience.
  • Utilize multiple platforms: Sell your products through your blog, online marketplaces, or even social media platforms.

11. Sponsorships and Brand Collaborations:

Partner with brands or businesses relevant to your niche for sponsored content or collaborations. This can be a lucrative way to leverage your audience and generate income.

  • Maintain editorial control: While working with sponsors, ensure you retain editorial control to maintain your blog’s authenticity and audience trust.
  • Disclosures are essential: Clearly disclose sponsored content to readers, upholding transparency and ethical practices.
  • Align with your niche: Partner with brands that complement your content and resonate with your audience.

12. Freelancing and Paid Writing Opportunities:

Your blog can serve as a springboard for freelance writing opportunities. Showcase your writing skills and expertise through your blog content, attracting potential clients.

  • Target relevant publications: Identify online publications, websites, or magazines related to your niche and pitch your writing services.
  • High-quality samples: Include high-quality blog posts from your site as writing samples when pitching to potential clients.
  • Develop strong writing skills: Continuously hone your writing skills and stay updated on current trends in your niche to deliver exceptional work.

Conclusion:

Building a successful blog that generates income requires dedication, strategic planning, and high-quality content. In today’s digital age, there are numerous opportunities to make money online through blogging. By utilizing a combination of methods such as affiliate marketing, sponsored content, and selling digital products or services, you can leverage your blog’s potential and achieve financial success.

Remember, consistency in posting, engaging with your audience, and staying adaptable to trends are key to thriving in the ever-evolving blogosphere. Embrace new strategies, refine your approaches, and always keep your readers at the forefront of your content creation journey. With dedication and the right approach, your blog has the potential to become a valuable source of income and a platform for sharing your knowledge and passion with the world, making money online while doing what you love.

Image Credit: DepositPhotos



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Snapchat Explores New Messaging Retention Feature: A Game-Changer or Risky Move?

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Snapchat Explores New Messaging Retention Feature: A Game-Changer or Risky Move?

In a recent announcement, Snapchat revealed a groundbreaking update that challenges its traditional design ethos. The platform is experimenting with an option that allows users to defy the 24-hour auto-delete rule, a feature synonymous with Snapchat’s ephemeral messaging model.

The proposed change aims to introduce a “Never delete” option in messaging retention settings, aligning Snapchat more closely with conventional messaging apps. While this move may blur Snapchat’s distinctive selling point, Snap appears convinced of its necessity.

According to Snap, the decision stems from user feedback and a commitment to innovation based on user needs. The company aims to provide greater flexibility and control over conversations, catering to the preferences of its community.

Currently undergoing trials in select markets, the new feature empowers users to adjust retention settings on a conversation-by-conversation basis. Flexibility remains paramount, with participants able to modify settings within chats and receive in-chat notifications to ensure transparency.

Snapchat underscores that the default auto-delete feature will persist, reinforcing its design philosophy centered on ephemerality. However, with the app gaining traction as a primary messaging platform, the option offers users a means to preserve longer chat histories.

The update marks a pivotal moment for Snapchat, renowned for its disappearing message premise, especially popular among younger demographics. Retaining this focus has been pivotal to Snapchat’s identity, but the shift suggests a broader strategy aimed at diversifying its user base.

This strategy may appeal particularly to older demographics, potentially extending Snapchat’s relevance as users age. By emulating features of conventional messaging platforms, Snapchat seeks to enhance its appeal and broaden its reach.

Yet, the introduction of message retention poses questions about Snapchat’s uniqueness. While addressing user demands, the risk of diluting Snapchat’s distinctiveness looms large.

As Snapchat ventures into uncharted territory, the outcome of this experiment remains uncertain. Will message retention propel Snapchat to new heights, or will it compromise the platform’s uniqueness?

Only time will tell.

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Catering to specific audience boosts your business, says accountant turned coach

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Catering to specific audience boosts your business, says accountant turned coach

While it is tempting to try to appeal to a broad audience, the founder of alcohol-free coaching service Just the Tonic, Sandra Parker, believes the best thing you can do for your business is focus on your niche. Here’s how she did just that.

When running a business, reaching out to as many clients as possible can be tempting. But it also risks making your marketing “too generic,” warns Sandra Parker, the founder of Just The Tonic Coaching.

“From the very start of my business, I knew exactly who I could help and who I couldn’t,” Parker told My Biggest Lessons.

Parker struggled with alcohol dependence as a young professional. Today, her business targets high-achieving individuals who face challenges similar to those she had early in her career.

“I understand their frustrations, I understand their fears, and I understand their coping mechanisms and the stories they’re telling themselves,” Parker said. “Because of that, I’m able to market very effectively, to speak in a language that they understand, and am able to reach them.” 

“I believe that it’s really important that you know exactly who your customer or your client is, and you target them, and you resist the temptation to make your marketing too generic to try and reach everyone,” she explained.

“If you speak specifically to your target clients, you will reach them, and I believe that’s the way that you’re going to be more successful.

Watch the video for more of Sandra Parker’s biggest lessons.

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