Monthly Archives: January 2020

Five simple content marketing trends for 2020

January 11, 2020 No Comments

How can you improve your content marketing strategy in 2020? Here are five simple and useful content marketing trends to follow in the new year.

We’ve welcomed 2020 and it’s the perfect time to start thinking of the best way to maintain a successful content marketing strategy over the next 12 months.

New channels, tactics, and trends emerge every day but the challenge is to decide on the ones that you want to include to your own strategy.

There are many posts that focus on the latest big trends and how you could revolutionize your tactics for 2020. We’ve decided to go back to basics to review how simple tactics and trends that can improve your content success.

1. Focus on the experience

It’s not enough to increase the frequency of your blogs to improve your content marketing success. In a digital world full of new content, the challenge is to stand out from your competitors.

A good way to achieve success is to focus on the experience. Your content should be relevant and informative but it should also facilitate the user experience.

Content experience is a growing term that refers to the role that sits between content marketing and UX. It’s about reviewing how you can improve your content, your website and even your strategy to ensure that your readers are spending more time on your posts.

There are many ways to improve your content experience:

  • Test the mobile version of your site
  • Aim for short paragraphs that are easy to read on mobile
  • Enhance the “readability” of your content by allowing your text to “breathe” with images and sub-headings
  • Review your loading speed
  • Aim for personalization

Not all changes require too much of your time. What’s important is to acknowledge how your team, your tools, and your processes can gear up towards improved content experiences in 2020, one step at a time.

2. Include visual data

Visual content can improve the reading experience. It can also help you get the main data to stand out. Infographics, for example, help you summarise your key points in a more visual way. They can even help you enhance the “shareability” of your post.

Visual quotes can also help you get your point across in a way that stands out to the reader. You can also include videos in your content to provide an alternative content format for your story.

Another idea that is very helpful in SaaS marketing is to include GIFs when talking about your product. It’s easier for your readers to understand what you’re referring to.

Using visual data in your content marketing can help you simplify complicated ideas and we’re seeing more brands using videos and GIFs to present their data.

Content marketing trends 2020 using story telling

Visual storytelling is growing stronger and it’s useful to experiment with different formats to find out what works best for your readers.

3. Write long-form content

There is a constant struggle on the internet to grab someone’s attention. Not everyone is spending a lot of time on a page, which pushes us to come up with new ideas of bite-sized content. This is actually a good approach in many ways but we also need to remember that long-form content is not dead.

There are many reasons to create long-form content in 2020:

  • Build trust with your readers
  • Go in-depth in the topics that you’re writing about
  • Showcase your writing style and your personality
  • Improve your SEO

Medium got popular as a platform that focuses on writing rather than distractions. You can find the content of great quality and many writers are not afraid to go in-depth in the topics that they’re covering. The Medium looked at their most successful posts to find out that the ideal blog post on their platform is around 1600 words and it takes seven minutes to read it.


Medium's stat showing long-form content length content marketing trends 2020

Moreover, creating long-form content is also helping your search ranking. Long-form content is helping you cover in-detail a topic that you want to serve as the authority.

Not all your posts should be too long. But it’s still a good idea to dedicate some time every month to produce a few pieces of more than 1000 words.

4. Read your content out loud

A simple method to improve your content writing in 2020 is to start reading your content out loud. It’s easy to get lost in your thoughts when writing content. What seems to be making sense to you might not necessarily do so for anyone else.

Everything you are writing should sound natural. Start creating content that feels more conversational to “hack” a more successful writing style.

Once you start applying this idea to your content marketing strategy, you start realizing that online writing should not be hard to understand. The idea is to help your readers enjoy your content in a simple and authentic way.

Reading your content out loud is pushing you to review the way you’re getting your message across. It is a practice that helps you improve your writing along with the reading experience. Next time you’re planning to create content for your customers, read it out loud before you publish it. You might be surprised by the difference it can make.

5. Make your SEO smarter

It’s time to make your search engine optimization smarter for 2020. How about being more strategic with SEO to focus on what matters?

You can start by making small changes that can have a long-term impact:

  • Stop focusing on the most popular keywords and start discovering the long-tail keywords that can help you stand out
  • Spend more time on improving your content rather than making sure that you stuff it with your focus keywords
  • Invest in the tools that can make SEO easier
  • Stop aiming for position one ranking in SERPs and explore the different ways to stand out (for example, visual ranking or featured snippets)
  • Write more conversational content to increase the chances of showing up in the featured snippets and the question boxes

What’s important is to start thinking of SEO as another element of your content marketing strategy that addresses your readers’ needs. It’s not just about ranking at the search results. The end goal should always be to deliver a great experience.

What’s next?

Not every content marketing trend should be groundbreaking. Sometimes even the simplest change can lead to great success.

Look at your existing content marketing strategy and what worked in 2019. Start exploring the areas that you want to improve on and find small wins that you can implement.

Look at these five trends as the starting point to simple changes that you can make to improve the understanding of your audience and their needs.

The post Five simple content marketing trends for 2020 appeared first on Search Engine Watch.

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Instagram adds Boomerang effects as TikTok looms

January 11, 2020 No Comments

TikTok has spawned countless memes formats from its creative effects, challenging Instagram for the filtered video crown. Now nearly five years after launching Boomerang, Instagram’s back-and-forth video loop maker is finally getting a big update to its own editing options. Users around the globe can now add SlowMo, “Echo” blurring, and “Duo” rapid rewind special effects to their Boomerangs, as well as trim their length. This is the biggest upgrade yet for one of mobile’s most popular video creation tools.

The effects could help keep Instagram interesting. After so many years of Boomerangs, many viewers simply skip past them in Stories after the first loop since they’re so consistent. The extra visual flare of the new effects could keep people’s attention for a few more seconds and unlock new forms of comedy. That’s critical as Instagram tries to compete with TikTok, which has tons of special effects that have spawned their own meme formats.

Starting today, people on Instagram will be able to share new SloMo, Echo and Duo Boomerang modes on Instagram” a Facebook company spokesperson tells TechCrunch. “Your Instagram camera gives you ways to express yourself and easily share what you’re doing, thinking or feeling with your friends. Boomerang is one of the most beloved camera formats and we’re excited to expand the creative ways that you can use Boomerang to turn everyday moments into something fun and unexpected.”

The new Boomerang tools can be found by swiping right on Instagram to open the Stories composer, and then swiping left at the bottom of the screen’s shutter selector. After shooting a Boomerang, an infinity symbol button atop the screen reveals the alternate effects and video trimmer. Mobile researcher Jane Manchun Wong spotted Instagram prototyping new Boomerang filters and the trimmer last year.

Typically, Boomerang captures one second of silent video which is then played forward and then in reverse three times to create a six second loop that can be shared or downloaded as a video. Here are the new effects you can add plus how Instagram described them to me in a statement:

  • SlowMo – Reduces Boomerangs to half-speed so they play for two seconds in each direction instead of one second. “Slows down your Boomerang to capture each detail”
  • Echo – Adds a motion blur effect so a translucent trail appears behind anything moving, almost like you’re drunk or tripping. “Creates a double vision effect.”
  • Duo – Rapidly rewinds the clip to the beginning with a glitchy, digitized look. “Both speeds up and slows down your Boomerang, adding a texturized effect.”
  • Trimming – Shorten your Boomerang with similar controls to iPhone’s camera roll or the Instagram feed video composer. “Edit the length of your Boomerang, and when it starts or ends.”

The effects aren’t entirely original. Snapchat has offered slow-motion and fast-foward video effects since just days after the original launch of Boomerang back in 2015. TikTok meanwhile provides several motion blur filters and pixelated transitions. But since these are all available with traditional video, unlike on Instagram where they’re confined to Boomerangs, there’s more creative flexibility to use the effects to hide cuts between takes or play with people’s voices.

That’s won TikTok a plethora of ingenius memes that rely on these tools. Users high-five themselves using an Echo-esque feature, highlight action-packed moments or loud sounds with Duo-style glitch cuts, and conjure an army of doppelgangers behind them with infinity clones effect. Instagram Stories has instead focused on augmented reality face filters and classier tools like layout.

TikTok Screenshots

Hopefully we’ll see Instagram’s new editing features brought over to its main Stories and video composers. Video trimming would be especially helpful since a boring start to a Story can quickly lead viewers to skip it.

Instagram has had years of domination in the social video space. But with Snapchat finally growing again and TikTok becoming a global phenomenon, Instagram must once again fight to maintain its superiority. Now approaching 10 years old, it’s at risk of becoming stale if it can’t keep giving people ways to make hastily shot phone content compelling.

Mobile – TechCrunch

6 New Jobs on the PPC Hero Job Board

January 11, 2020 No Comments

New jobs have been posted to PPC Hero’s Job Board, including new positions open at Workshop Digital, RyTech, Enilon & Hanapin Marketing.

Read more at PPCHero.com
PPC Hero

The role of SEO in online reputation management (ORM)

January 11, 2020 No Comments

Before anybody does business with you, they’d have Googled your name. The links and information that appear on the first few pages of Google when your name is searched for are what potential partners perceive you are. That’s why online reputation management is key.

According to Eric Schmidt, “Identity will be the most valuable commodity for citizens of the future and it will exist primarily online.”

Curating a positive online reputation is no longer optional. Successful online reputation management (ORM) and search engine optimization (SEO) companies help their clients achieve results through proactively coordinating content, websites, and search engine results pages (SERPs).

In this article, I will share how the right SEO-driven content strategy will boost your digital reputation.

Why online reputation is important to your business’ existence

1. Consumers trust user-generated content more

Research by TurnTo revealed that 99% of consumers would consider user-generated content before making a purchase decision. At Blue Ocean Global Tech, we consistently receive emails from executives, entrepreneurs, and lawyers who have realized too late how one comment or negative link adversely impacts their revenue and bottom line.

2. Your online reputation affects your business offline too

Yes, this is important. Prospective patrons research a restaurant before walking into the physical venue to experience the real thing. According to BrightLocal consumer survey research, 82% of consumers read online reviews for a local business before booking an appointment.

3. Talents will only work with a business that has a great reputation

Businesses may view their online reputation from a customer-acquisition standpoint. However, digital presence affects almost everything, including the perception of potential employees.

How to augment your online reputation by building on SEO efforts

1. Optimize content for a successful ORM campaign

People are influenced by what they read about you. This is where it is necessary to ensure positive content ranks higher for your names or brand keywords.

What is the difference between SEO and ORM, then? Since highlighting your positive content alone does not guarantee that your potential customers or partners will see the most representative information, you need effective SEO to rank and feature the strengths of your brand. Consistently publishing content without implementing effective SEO tactics is a common practice, which we refer to as “spray and pray”.

Keep in mind that the most successful reputation management campaigns rank specific articles, videos, blogs, and websites that highlight your expertise.

An effective SEO strategy will accomplish the following areas:

  1. Optimize pages of your website to appear atop of SERPs and rank for target keyword phrases.
  2. Feature your genuine social profiles representing your company or brand name.
  3. Optimize company-hosted and third-party review website pages to populate when an interested person Googles “your brand name + reviews.”
  4. Influence search engines to highlight positive content and simultaneously push negative or irrelevant content down beyond the third or fourth page.

2. How to optimize content for better discovery on the internet

2a. Types of content to optimize for optimal results

What type of content is best optimized for optimal results? Authentic and concise writing attracts back-links from credible websites. Naturally, optimizing these digital assets insulates you from defamatory content and suppresses negative or erroneous links. Below are several examples of concentrated SEO content.

  1. A guide or tutorial article: Guides are content that takes the reader through the process of understanding a subject. Guides may be harder to create but will rank higher for keyphrases over time. They earn backlinks easily.
  2. Video review of your product/company/industry: According to a study by Forrester Research, video is 50 times more likely to achieve organic page rank in Google than plain text. With video content, you can easily rank positive content for targeted phrases. Additionally, the best offense is a strong defense. Authentic video digital assets inoculate your brand against future malicious or defamatory posts, whether anonymous or not.
    Using client testimonial videos for SEO and online reputation management
  3. Whitepapers: Releasing an original-content white paper is a widely accepted strategy for positively impacting search results. Similar to an actionable guide, the white paper can offer in-depth forecasts and developed arguments, which will further establish you as a reputable authority.
  4. Website bearing your name with a press page: If you do not already have a website bearing your name, now is the time you should create one. Nourish this cornerstone digital asset with SEO-rich content about yourself and your brand. Begin with the end in mind so that you eventually rank on multiple keywords organically. Even if someone wants to do business with Blue Ocean Global Technology, whether through a referral, email outreach, or direct phone call from me, they often Google “Sameer Somal” because I am the CEO. Investing the time to create SameerSomal.com pays ongoing dividends in credibility and trust. Prospects and new friends often thank me for that website because they were able to read so much about me in one place.
  5. An author page or brand page on an authority publication: Publications and sites such as Wikipedia, Forbes, Entrepreneur, and Inc.com often rank on page one for your name in search results. Individuals can have author bylines in Inc.com while companies can be listed on the Inc. 5000 list. Since these high-domain-authority websites allow you to have a biography of yourself on your author page, they are compelling options for concentrated SEO content.

SEO benefit of having an author bio page on authoritative sites for online reputation management

2b. Scores to target for achieving higher content discovery

Connect your goals with the creation of authoritative SEO content to best support your online reputation management campaign. While originating SEO-rich content will rank favorably with Google, consider these benchmarks to drive measurable results:

  1. Aim for depth: You want your content to be as in-depth as possible, giving your readers all the necessary summary information they would want on a single page. Supplement the main points with detailed content that includes technical details and action steps for implementation. Google’s algorithm will understand the depth and subsequently rank the comprehensive material higher for target keywords.
  2. Link to credible sources: With in-depth content, you will notice that you’re making claims that would need to be backed by sources. More so, when you’re attempting to win readers over to your side, ensure your facts and data are referenced from credible sources.
  3. Break your content into digestible formats: You do not want your content to be skimmed over and abandoned because it is difficult to read. Aside from the fact that in-depth SEO content would help you dominate search results, it’s an opportunity to have all of your positive sides ingrained in the minds of your readers, helping you to earn their trust once more.

3. Where brands should focus on when optimizing content for reputation enhancement

To ensure your content performs well, make sure you’re publishing them on high-authority websites. This goes for both visual and text-based content.

For the content hosted on your personal or company website, ensure that all of your website properties are optimized and maintained and update plug-ins monthly. SEO and reputation campaigns will yield relatively marginal results if users are driven back to a website that is not functional or responsive. Furthermore, foundational opportunities to rank on Google and reach people who want your help are missed when you don’t perform regular technical maintenance on your website.

After optimizing your website to perform highly in search results, you should also level up your reputation campaign and promote best-performing content. The next step is to identify positive pillar content sources.

3a. Identifying positive content – Best practices

You want to make sure you’re not only creating rich SEO-driven content but are actually putting your optimal effort into promoting the type of content that highlights your strengths. To identify positive content that may benefit your brand image, consider these milestones you may overlook:

  1. Received congratulatory wishes when they were released – Such as completing a successful acquisition, receiving an award, reaching a new industry milestone, getting featured in an important publication, and so on.
  2. Celebrated the fulfillment of a personal goal – Such as hitting a weight-loss goal, completing a book you’ve been working on, hiring that star employee you’ve always dreamed of working with, and others.
  3. Documented a partnership goal – Has your brand always dreamed of working with another brand, and have you always talked openly about this? Such content could augment your brand’s reputational image by investing SEO efforts into it.
  4. Documented the process it took to achieve a huge goal – Completing your major office headquarters or complex would fall into this category, as would the content that documents the process it took to develop your flagship product from scratch to finish.

4. How to use image search ranking to augment online reputation efforts

Images are often ignored in ORM efforts by marketers because it’s assumed that it is difficult to rank images. Images still provide many opportunities to claim your branded keywords, create authentic back-links, and build a strong reputation within search engines.

Consider this: Why is it that most of the time, when you run a query of a famous person’s name in Google, images of them usually rank at the top of the results? And images often dominate the Knowledge Graph area for popular names such as celebrities, brands, or popular destinations.

Below are some techniques for using images to dominate search results for your online reputation repair campaign.

 4a. Optimize alt tags and keywords

Alt tags in images are strings of connected texts that help search engine crawlers to understand what an image is about. When adding images to your content, always include your branded keywords in the alt text area of the images. For the most effective results, keep the texts connected to each other by adding the underscore sign “_” after every string of text. So, say I was to add an image of myself in content, I’d add the following text to the alt text area: “Sameer_Somal_CEO_of_Blue_Ocean_Global_Tech”, instead of just including random text or just barely adding my name to it.

4b. Name the image after the branded keywords

If you’re uploading an image to your website as a part of your SEO content, you’ll be missing out on keyword ranking opportunity if you’re saving such images with random texts, or, in some scenarios, with numbers. Instead, use the branded keywords you want to rank for as the name of the images. This means you’d have to locate the image file destination on your local storage—that is, your computer or hard drive – and change the name of the image to the branded keyword you want it to rank for. Again, you can use the alt tags approach to optimize it by linking the texts together.

Naming images after branded keywords to use SEO for online reputation management


The ORM process helps aligns your sales, marketing, and technology efforts. SEO content is a key pillar for achieving the results you seek on the internet. By learning the top-performing SEO strategies to rank atop search results for your branded keywords, you’ll be able to maintain a clean image on the internet and create opportunities.

Sameer Somal is the Co-Founder and CEO of Blue Ocean Global Technology, a global leader in online reputation management. He is a recognized international keynote speaker and an internet defamation subject matter expert witness. Sameer can be reached on LinkedIn.

The post The role of SEO in online reputation management (ORM) appeared first on Search Engine Watch.

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How to improve your website ranking in 2020

January 10, 2020 No Comments

There are factors that influence website ranking in search engines. Considering these factors determines how a website is ranked in search engines.

Many people wonder how the major search engines rank websites to determine which websites are the best for keyword searches. This is particularly something that people who are just starting into online marketing find perplexing. The answer to how to improve the ranking of a website through search engine optimization (SEO) methods is not always definite, but there are several known factors that have been known to significantly influence the ranking of websites.

Among the most significant factors that increase search engine optimization and influence the ranking of websites in major search engines to include a website’s content, a website’s architecture and a website’s link popularity. Even as the search engine innovations continue to advance, these have remained key factors to search engine optimization and determination of the websites that are best suited for keyword searches.

The website’s content

The old saying, “Content is king” can never be overemphasized. A website’s content is no doubt the number one factor that determines a website’s ranking by search engines. In fact, search engines are constantly developing new technologies to reward quality content on the web. The higher the quality of content on a website, the higher the website will be ranked by search engines. In turn, the high ranking of a website is a definite mark of approval that a website is relevant for particular keyword searches.

Among the things in a website’s content that are considered by search engines when evaluating the relevance of websites for keyword searches include the headers and page titles in websites, formatted texts, and links in a website, URLs of websites and page content in websites. These things help search engines establish websites that deserve high ranking for keyword searches. Therefore, for a website to be ranked highly through search engine optimization, it is very important that it maintains a good balance of these aspects of the content because they affect the ranking of websites in varying proportions.

More on the website’s content

The correct balance of keywords on a website’s page should generally be between four to five percent within the content of a website. This helps increase the odds of a website being ranked highly for keyword searches. Added to this, if the keyword is included in the URL of a website, a website’s page title and a website’s header the website increases its chances for favorable ranking by search engines. Different from earlier technologies where search engines only looked at the tags that indicated the description of a web page, today the search engine technology used by major search engines goes beyond the mega tags to look more keenly at the website’s content appropriateness for keyword searches.

The originality of a website’s content is therefore paramount to establishing and maintaining a favorable ranking of a website for keyword searches. To farther improve the chances of a website’s ranking in search engine searches, bolding the keywords can sometimes help. This indicates that a website is properly maintained, which goes a long way into convincing search engines that a website is good for keyword searches.

Website’s videos and SERP rankings

One of the reasons videos are nowadays a privileged form of content is because they are very well when it comes to delivering large amounts of information in a short/concise manner. A picture is worth a thousand words, we all know that and following that logic, we can communicate about 1.8 million words in a minute-long video which is around 3 600 pages of text.

From the standpoint of SEO, this is a big deal. The longer your visitor’s “dwell time” or session is, the greater your chances at getting search engines like Google to see your video’s value and the trustworthiness of the webpage it’s hosted on – and, ultimately, give the page a higher rank.

In addition to providing Google with textual information about your video, it needs to have an attractive thumbnail too.

in a recent e-mail interview, Natalia Hudyakova Simonenko, a Digital Marketing expert and CEO of Movavi, said,

“With regard to the SERP click-through rate, the thumbnail is even more important, since we, as humans, are naturally drawn toward catchy and beautiful images.”

Website’s architecture

The architecture of a website should ensure that the content of the website is not just appropriate, but that the content is easy to read. This is the number one reason why the architecture of a website should be maintained properly to ensure search engine optimization to a website’s content. In other words, the website’s architecture should have well-formed codes that make it easy for search engines to read the content of a site. Failure of the codes being well coded can lead to search engines totally missing a website’s content, which means poor ranking by search engines.

Therefore, websites should forego the old content management systems and use the newer, more improved encoding systems that use URL rewriting technologies. The new content management technologies make a website’s content easily readable by major search engines. This makes the website more visible by search engines. Moreover, making a website easily readable by people with disabilities also improves the chances of a website being ranked highly in major search engines.

Website’s link popularity

Needless to say, the popularity of a website is a good indication of how relevant a website is for keyword searches. A website that has high traffic suggests that the website contains relevant information for particular keywords. Because of this, the popularity of a website is used by search engines as a criterion for determining the relevance of a website for keyword searches. Google and Yahoo are an example of two major search engines that particularly use this criterion to rank websites.

Many search engines also use inbound links of websites on other websites to determine the popularity of a website. When a reference or link to a website is made within another website, search engines consider this a “vote of confidence” for the referred website.

This becomes an indication that the referred link is relevant for a particular keyword search. As a result, many such inbound references to a website are used to some degree by search engines to determine the ranking of a website.

These factors are obviously not the only SEO factors that determine the ranking of a website, but they are certainly among the well-known factors that significantly influence the ranking of the website by major search engines. Therefore, by considering these factors people stand the best chance of considerably optimizing the ranking of their website.

Jacob M. is a copywriter, marketing blogger, and inbound marketing consultant.

The post How to improve your website ranking in 2020 appeared first on Search Engine Watch.

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Twitter’s new reply blockers could let Trump hide critics

January 9, 2020 No Comments

What if politicians could only display Twitter replies from their supporters while stopping everyone else from adding their analysis to the conversation? That’s the risk of Twitter’s upcoming Conversation Participants tool it’s about to start testing that lets you choose if you want replies from everyone, only those your follow or mention or no one.

For most, the reply limiter could help repel trolls and harassment. Unfortunately, it still puts the burden of safety on the victims rather than the villains. Instead of routing out abusers, Twitter wants us to retreat and wall off our tweets from everyone we don’t know. That could reduce the spontaneous yet civil reply chains between strangers that are part of what makes Twitter so powerful.

But in the hands of politicians hoping to avoid scrutiny, the tools could make it appear that their tweets and policies are uniformly supported. By only allowing their sycophants to add replies below their posts, anyone reading along will be exposed to a uniformity of opinion that clashes with Twitter’s position as a marketplace of ideas.

We’ve reached out to Twitter for comment on this issue and whether anyone such as politicians would be prevented from using the new reply-limiting tools. Twitter plans to test the reply-selection tool in Q1, monitor usage, and make modifications if necessary before rolling it out. The company provided this statement:

We want to help people feel safe participating in the conversation on Twitter by giving them more control over the conversations they start. We’ll be experimenting with different options for who can reply to Tweets in early 2020.”

Here’s how the new Conversation Participants feature works, according to the preview shared by Twitter’s Suzanne Xie at CES today, though it could change during testing. When users go to tweet, they’ll have the option of selecting who can reply, unlike now when everyone can leave replies but authors can hide certain ones that viewers can opt to reveal. Conversation Participants offers four options:

Global: Replies from anyone

Group: Replies from those you follow or mention in this tweet

Panel: Replies from only those you mention in this tweet

Statement: No replies allowed

Now imagine President Trump opts to make all of his tweets Group-only. Only those who support him and he therefore follows — like his sons, Fox News’ Sean Hannity and his campaign team — could reply. Gone would be the reels of critics fact-checking his statements or arguing against his policies. His tweets would be safeguarded from reproach, establishing an echo chamber filter bubble for his acolytes.

It’s true that some of these responses from the public might constitute abuse or harassment. But those should be dealt with specifically through strong policy and consistent enforcement of adequate punishments when rules are broken. By instead focusing on stopping replies from huge swaths of the community, the secondary effects have the potential to prop up politicians that consistently lie and undam the flow of misinformation.

There’s also the practical matter that this won’t stop abuse, it will merely move it. Civil discussion will be harder to find for the rest of the public, but harassers will still reach their targets. Users blocked from replying to specific tweets can just tweet directly at the author. They can also continue to mention the author separately or screenshot their tweets and then discuss them.

It’s possible that U.S. law prevents politicians discriminating against citizens with different viewpoints by restricting their access to the politician’s comments on a public forum. Judges ruled this makes it illegal for Trump to block people on social media. But with this new tool, because anyone could still see the tweets, reply to the author separately and not be followed by the author likely doesn’t count as discrimination like blocking does, use of the Conversation Participants tool could be permissible. Someone could sue to push the issue to the courts, though, and judges might be wise to deem this unconstitutional.

Again, this is why Twitter needs to refocus on cleaning up its community rather than only letting people build tiny, temporary shelters from the abuse. It could consider blocking replies and mentions from brand new accounts without sufficient engagement or a linked phone number, as I suggested in 2017. It could also create a new mid-point punishment of a “time-out” from sending replies for harassment that it (sometimes questionably) deems below the threshold of an account suspension.

The combination of Twitter’s decade of weakness in the face of trolls with a new political landscape of normalized misinformation threaten to overwhelm its attempts to get a handle on safety.

CES 2020 coverage - TechCrunch

Social – TechCrunch

Twitter is bringing twttr’s experiments in threaded conversations to its main app

January 9, 2020 No Comments

At last year’s CES, Twitter introduced its first public prototype app, twttr — dubbed “little T” internally at Twitter. The app allows Twitter to develop and experiment with new features in the public, to see what works and what does not. The app’s main focus, to date, has been on making threaded conversations easier to read. Now, the company is ready to graduate the best of twttr to the main Twitter app.

“We’re taking all the different branches — all the different parts of the conversation — and we’re making it so it’s all in one global view,” explained Suzanne Xie, Twitter’s head of Conversations, speaking to reporters at CES 2020. “This means you can easily understand, and get a pulse of what’s happening in the conversation,” she added.

When the changes roll out, you’ll be able to see when the original tweet’s author is replying within a conversation thread. Twitter will also highlight people you’re following and people who are verified.

This way, Xie continues, “you can understand who is talking to who in a conversation.”

In addition, Twitter will release other features that build on top of threaded conversations to the public, including how the user interface reacts when you tap on a reply.

On twttr, when you tap into a reply within a conversation, you get more information about the tweet in question. You can also reply in-line to the tweet. And the reply itself is shaded to differentiate it from the surrounding tweets, when selected.

Threaded conversations also hide some of the replies to keep the conversation more readable — but you can click a link to load more of the replies as you scroll down. Twitter says it personalizes which replies are shown and hidden based on things like who you follow, who you interact with and people you’ve interacted with in the past.

“These are pieces of making this global conversation easier to use — so you don’t have to tab to new screens and go back and forth,” Xie explained.

Despite the initial excitement around Twitter’s new app, twttr, some felt the company didn’t take full advantage of having a public experimental playground. Few other new features beyond threaded conversations were tried out on the testing platform.

To some extent, Twitter’s plans could have been impacted by changes in twttr’s leadership. Twitter in August acquired Xie’s startup Lightwell. Meanwhile, Sara Haider, who had been leading the charge on rethinking the design of conversations on Twitter, which included the release of twttr, announced that she would be moving on to a new project at the company after a short break.

With twttr’s threaded conversations feature making its way to Twitter.com, the plan now is to use twttr to experiment with other conversational features.

For example, twttr may be used to try out new features in the incentives space — meaning, how small tweaks to Twitter’s user interface can influence different types of user behavior.

“Going forward, we’re investing and making a concerted effort, as we try new features and as we change different mechanics, to [determine] what we’re incentivizing and what we’re disincentivizing,” said Xie.

For instance, changing the prompts that Twitter displays when a user goes to compose a tweet or a reply could influence how they choose to respond. This is only one example of the sorts of things Twitter aims to test with Little T, as it’s called.

Twitter says the new threaded conversations features will begin to roll out on Twitter for iOS first, followed by web then Android, sometime in Q1.

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How voice assistants like Alexa can help marketers reach elderly Americans

January 9, 2020 No Comments

The baby boomer generation placed smartphones in the hands of the millennial generation and younger generations. As the baby boomers enter the retirement stage of life, they’re not quite up-to-speed on all the great things that technology can do for them.

Part of the reason for that is that they’re just not as familiar with all the things technology can help them with. Elderly people have a low frustration tolerance for learning how technologies work which is a big reason why voice assistants like Alexa are catching on with this audience.

With devices like Amazon Alexa or Google home, they simply speak their request and the device responds. No swiping or clicking required.

Voice-first technology is a game-changer for seniors

A San Diego pilot project conducted by Davis Park, the executive director for Front Porch Center for Innovation and Wellbeing, set up an Alexa system in a retirement community with 50 residents where most residents were over 80 years old and observed the results.

About 75% of the residents used their smart devices regularly. Instructors focused on helping the residents to connect with the technology. For example, they set up the technology so they could use voice commands to listen to their favorite types of music or watch or listen to their favorite sports teams. From there they were able to branch out and learn how to use the technology to turn the lights off and on, change the temperature, adjust the volume on the music, listen to audiobooks, and get medication reminders using only their voices. 

Voice-first technology quickly generated excitement for them because it allowed them to have greater control and independence, which means they could be less reliant on others. They also felt safer, less isolated, and more connected to friends, family, and the community. In essence, voice-first technology gave them a greater quality of life. 

What possibilities does voice technology bring?

The frontrunners of voice technology in the U.S. are Amazon Alexa and Google Home. There are, however, even more companies that have Voice devices available.  We’re also seeing third party apps on these platforms, built specifically with older Americans in mind.

For example, Alexa has Ask Marvee which is a free service where a senior citizen could send out a morning blast to their loved ones by saying, “Alexa, tell Marvee to send a message saying I’m alright.” Everyone on the list gets a text, email, or both. Seniors can also use Marvee to ask for social visits and get news from their family members. Users can expand their list for a nominal fee.

Another app called ‘Ask My Buddy’ uses voice commands to send an alert via text, call, or email to designated people in times of crisis or trouble. It’s accessible through Amazon Alexa, Google Home, and Microsoft Cortana. It’s the next best thing to calling 911.

Alexa also works with LifePod, a proactive voice-first technology that initiates interactions based on preconfigured schedules. The app prompts seniors to follow their routines for taking their medications, checking in with caregivers, staying hydrated, getting exercise, or anything else at a scheduled time, including playing music. If the user doesn’t confirm or respond, the app automatically alerts a caregiver. The app also uses artificial intelligence to recognize irregularities in a senior’s condition, behavior, or sleep patterns and alerts their loved ones.

ElliQ is much like a smart speaker that sits on a nightstand or table. It was created by Intuition Robotics with the senior audience in mind. ElliQ will send or play messages to loved ones. If you ask ElliQ to play some music or pull up some photographs of the grandchildren, the app responds accordingly. If a senior is lazing the day away, ElliQ will suggest that they take a walk or get up and get moving. 

The company incorporated robotics technology into ElliQ which is reflective of a human’s body language. When a senior speaks to ElliQ, it swivels its “head” towards the senior. The device also lights up when it’s speaking. These features increase engagement between the user and the device without trying to mimic a human-robot.

The objective is for the device to be a service bot that doesn’t replace a human companion. Dor Skuler, CEO of Intuition Robotics, states that older adults who are participating in their pilot program are connecting to it. Customers give ElliQ a female gender and classify her as a new entity in their home – somewhere between a person and an appliance.  

Benefits of voice-first technology for the senior population

The goal of voice-first technology is to provide value for the people who use it. By communicating with voice for normal everyday tasks, it’s convenient, saves time, and it’s cost-effective. The value for seniors increases exponentially. For the senior who needs his or her hands to get around using a walker, it’s far easier to ask an electronic app to turn the lights on or off. They no longer need to scour their home looking for a smartphone to call their loved ones every day and tell them they’re doing okay. They will no longer have to put notes up around the house reminding them to take their medication. 

If a senior slips and falls, all they have to do is call out to their app and it will alert someone to send help right away. Photos and videos of close family and friends provide a way to cheer up lonely seniors. With an app like ElliQ, they can see photos or videos of their family members any time they choose, without having to ask someone to dig heavy boxes out of the attic, so they can sort through photographs. 

For family members of aging loved ones, voice-first technology gives them an all-important peace of mind. They can wake up every day and get a message telling them that their loved one is okay and doing well. There is less fear about their loved ones falling and getting injured and not being able to call for help. It eliminates the worry of envisioning them lying helpless on the floor for hours before help arrives. It’s helpful to know that their beloved seniors feel less isolated because they can gain access to audiobooks, music, and television just by making requests out loud. 

How digital marketers can create strategies for seniors by using voice

Do you know what a voice strategist is? Well, I didn’t know what it was either until I met Scot and Susan Westwater, the co-founders of Pragmatic Digital at Global Marketing Day in New York City. When I asked them about how to create strategies for senior care using voice strategy, their first tip was clear – have a clear understanding of what you want to accomplish and what your audience needs from a voice experience. Once you’ve identified what it is that you want to accomplish, it’s easier to develop different strategies to reach your goal. 

For example, if your goals are safety in the home, it’s important to know what their daily schedule looks like. Do they have a consistent routine? Does their daily routine vary on the weekends? Do caregivers come in one or more days per week? Are seniors capable of taking their own medication? Are they able to reach light switches and temperature controls? Can they see the digits on the thermostat? If they go for a walk, how long would they normally be gone? Are they able to take their medications as prescribed? Are they strong enough to lock their doors at night and unlock them without assistance if someone comes to the door? 

By answering those questions, a digital marketer can help some to choose the right digital solutions to accomplish the customer’s goals. 

Using voice-first technology to address health proactively

In many cases, people would live longer if they could make an early diagnosis based on symptoms in the early stages of a disease or illness. It’s possible for voice-first technology to play a role in recognizing symptoms and recording when they first appeared. Electronic apps could play a role such as giving a call to action such as, “Call your doctor…” making it possible to diagnose issues earlier and treat them before they become problematic or life-threatening. 

How to maximize the potential for communication in the senior population

Communication is an important factor when considering your objectives. I find it helpful to list your business objectives and your audience’s objectives and assess where the two meet. What does your message say? Is it clear? You have to think beyond the message and consider who your audience is. The senior population has very different needs than an active young couple or a busy single mother with multiple schedules to manage.

In my recent interview with Scot and Susan Westwater, they noted that they think of voice-first technology as audience-first technology. If you ask it a question, you’re going to get a direct answer. It’s much more senior-friendly than traditional methods of search, where you type your question and have to click around for answers.

The future of voice-first technology in senior care services

As I consider the future of voice-first technology and how it could greatly improve the senior care service industry, I can’t help but consider the barriers that stand in the way. The first obstacle that digital marketers have to overcome is trying to get the seniors on board with understanding that there is more to benefit than to fear with using voice-first technology. Many seniors live on fixed incomes and they may feel that technology is out of reach due to cost, without realizing how cost-effective it is. 

Finally, there’s always hesitancy when switching to something new. For many individuals, it’s easier to take a wait-and-see approach than it is to be a pace-setter. 

The key to employing technology in the senior care industry is education, awareness, and a focus on safety and well-being for senior populations.

Karina Tama is a contributor for Forbes, Thrive Global and the El Distrito Newspaper. She can be found on Twitter @KarinaTama2.

The post How voice assistants like Alexa can help marketers reach elderly Americans appeared first on Search Engine Watch.

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Hero Conf 2020 Schedule Release! The Schedule is Live!

January 8, 2020 No Comments

The Hero Conf 2020 schedule is LIVE and ALL NEW. You’ll experience 40, never-before-heard sessions, so you’ll be sure to learn new strategies from our experts.

Read more at PPCHero.com
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Daily Crunch: Facebook bans deepfakes

January 7, 2020 No Comments

The Daily Crunch is TechCrunch’s roundup of our biggest and most important stories. If you’d like to get this delivered to your inbox every day at around 9am Pacific, you can subscribe here.

1. Facebook bans deceptive deepfakes and some misleadingly modified media

In a policy update announced late yesterday, Facebook’s Monika Bickert wrote that moving forward, the social network will take a stricter line on manipulated media content — removing content that’s been edited or synthesized “in ways that aren’t apparent to an average person and would likely mislead someone into thinking that a subject of the video said words that they did not actually say.”

However, edits for quality or cuts and splices to videos that simply curtail or change the order of words are not covered by the ban. So as Natasha Lomas notes, a more subtle form of political fakery will still be allowed.

2. TiVo announces a $ 49.99 device that combines streaming and live TV

CEO Dave Shull said the TiVo Stream 4K is launching the company “full on into the streaming wars.” It’s integrated with services like Netflix, Amazon Prime Video and HBO, and will also include content from TiVo+, the free, ad-supported movie and TV service that the company launched last fall. And it will include live TV and cloud DVR through Sling TV.

3. Union Square Ventures leads legal tech startup Juro’s $ 5M Series A

Juro’s business is focused on taking the tedium out of negotiating and drawing up contracts by making contract-building more interactive and trackable.

4. BMW launches gaze detection so your car knows what you’re looking at

Using its AI tools, the concept car’s systems can follow the driver’s gaze and interpret it. That means you will be able to get more information about a restaurant, or about which movies are playing at a cinema that you’re driving by.

5. Tech-driven change a key priority for new EC president

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen has made responding to technology-driven change a key priority for her five-year term — which began last month — alongside challenges posed by climate change and demographic shifts, tacitly linking all three to a rise in regional unease. (Extra Crunch membership required.)

6. Cloudflare acquires stealthy startup S2 Systems, announces Cloudflare for Teams

Matthew Prince, co-founder and CEO at Cloudflare, says that this acquisition is part of a new suite of products called Cloudflare for Teams, which has been designed to protect an organization from threats on the internet. S2 developed a solution specifically to help prevent browser-based code attacks.

7. Mercedes-Benz and James Cameron built an Avatar-inspired car perfect for Pandora

Speaking of concept cars, Mercedes-Benz channeled the world of James Cameron’s hit movie “Avatar” for its latest — an electric autonomous vehicle covered in bionic flaps that aims to show how man and machine can merge and live responsibly in nature.

Social – TechCrunch