Social Bluebook was hacked, exposing 217,000 influencers’ accounts

March 28, 2020 No Comments

A social media platform used to match advertisers with thousands of influencers has been hacked.

Social Bluebook, a Los Angeles-based company, allows advertisers to pay social media “influencers” for posts that promote their products and services. The company claims it has some 300,000 influencers on its books.

But in October 2019, the company’s entire backend database was stolen in a data breach.

TechCrunch obtained the database, which contains some 217,000 user accounts — including influencer names, email addresses, and passwords hashed, which had been scrambled using the strong SHA-2 hashing algorithm.

It’s not known how the database was exfiltrated from the company’s systems or who was behind the breach.

We contacted several users who when presented with their information confirmed it as accurate. We also provided a portion of the data to Social Bluebook co-founder Sam Michie for verification.

“We have just now become aware of this data breach that occurred in October 2019,” he told TechCrunch in an email Thursday.

He said affected users will be informed of the breach by email. The company also informed the California attorney general’s office of the breach, per state law.

Social media influencers are a constant target for hackers, who often try to hijack accounts with popular handles or high follower counts. Some influencers have relied on white-hat hackers to get their hijacked accounts back.

Last year, an Indian social media firm left a database of Instagram influencers online, which included phone numbers and email addresses scraped from their profiles.

Got a tip? You can send tips securely over Signal and WhatsApp to +1 646-755–8849. 

Social – TechCrunch

The future of collectibles is digital

March 26, 2020 No Comments

The estimated size of the global collectibles market is $ 370 billion.

People have an innate propensity to collect, which drives purchases of collectible goods like art, games, sports memorabilia, toys and more. But given that the world is rapidly adopting digital each day, how likely is it that this market can continue to grow as is?

Won’t this primarily physical market have little choice but to evolve with the times?

With an increase in digital adoption, a step-function innovation is emerging; digital collectibles. The new medium is gaining in popularity and its influence is spreading relatively quickly.

The potential impact on the cryptocurrency landscape, while seemingly unrelated, is quite profound. Businesses already present in the collectibles market have new offerings, demographics and economic impacts to take into account. Even household brands are acknowledging their significance and building strategies around them.

Image by Christian Braun via hobbyDB

Digital collectibles have taken a foothold and are well on their way to increase their presence in our daily lives.

What is a digital collectible?

Social – TechCrunch

Facebook in talks to acquire stake in top Indian telco Reliance Jio, report says

March 24, 2020 No Comments

Reliance Jio, a three-and-a-half-year-old subsidiary of India’s most valued firm Reliance Industries, may have attracted the attention of an American giant: Facebook.

The social conglomerate is in talks to acquire a 10% stake in the Indian telecom operator, the Financial Times reported Tuesday. The size of the deal, the paper said, was in “multi-billion dollars.”

Analysts at Bernstein value Jio at more than $ 60 billion. Mukesh Ambani, India’s richest man who runs Reliance Industries, has poured over $ 25 billion into Reliance Jio over the years.

Reliance Jio, which began its commercial operation in the second half of 2016, upended the local telecom market by offering bulk of 4G data and free voice calls for six months.

The telco kickstarted a price war that saw local network providers Vodafone and Airtel quickly move to revise their data plans and mobile tariffs. But they struggled to match the offerings of Jio, which has amassed over 370 million subscribers to become the top telecom operator in the country.

Reaching those users might interest Facebook, which attempted and failed to expand its free internet initiative, Free Basics, in India. (The company has since expanded Express Wi-Fi to India — though its potential and scale remains comparatively small.)

Reliance Jio also owns a suite of services including music streaming service JioSaavn, on-demand live television service JioTV and payments service JioPay.

Earlier this year, Reliance Industries announced JioMart, a joint venture between Reliance Jio and Reliance Retail, the nation’s largest retail chain, to soft-launch an e-commerce business.

In recent quarters, Facebook, which is beginning to see competition from ByteDance’s TikTok in India, has started to take interest in local startups. Last year, the firm made an investment in social commerce Meesho; and last month, it wrote a check to edtech startup Unacademy.

Ajit Mohan, VP and managing director of Facebook India, told TechCrunch in an interview last year that the company was open to engaging with startups that are building solutions for the Indian market for more investing opportunities. “Wherever we believe there is opportunity beyond the work we do today, we are open to exploring further investment deals,” he said.

Facebook declined to comment, and Reliance Jio did not immediately respond.

Social – TechCrunch

With kids and adults staying at home, are virtual worlds ready for primetime?

March 23, 2020 No Comments

We’ve been diligently following the development of virtual worlds, also known as the “metaverse,” on TechCrunch.

Hanging out within the virtual worlds of games has become more popular in recent years with the growth of platforms like Roblox and open-world games like Fortnite, but it still isn’t a mainstream way to socialize outside of the young-adult demographic.

Three weeks ago, TechCrunch media columnist Eric Peckham published an in-depth report that positioned virtual worlds as the next era of social media. In an eight-part series, he looked at the history of virtual worlds and why games are already social networkswhy social networks want more gamingwhat the next few years looks like for the industry and why isn’t it mainstream alreadyhow these virtual worlds will lead to healthier social relationswhat the future of virtual economies will be and which companies are poised for success in this new market.

Given all that has changed in just the last three weeks — who would have thought that large swaths of the knowledge economy would suddenly find themselves entirely interacting virtually? — I wanted to get a sense of what the rising popularity of virtual worlds looks like in the midst of the outbreak of novel coronavirus. Eric and I had a call to discuss this and decided to share our conversation publicly.

Danny Crichton: So let’s talk about timing a bit. You wrote this eight-article series around virtual worlds and then all of a sudden post-publication there is this massive event — the novel coronavirus pandemic — causing a large portion of the human population to stay at home and interact only online. What’s happening now in the space?

Eric Peckham: I wrote my series on the multiverse because I was already seeing a surge of interest, both in terms of consumer demand for open-world MMO games and in terms of social media giants like Facebook and Snap trying to incorporate virtual worlds and social games into their platforms. Large companies are planning for virtual worlds in a way that is actionable and not just a futuristic vision. Over the last couple of years there has also been a lot of VC investment into a handful of startups focused on building next-generation virtual worlds for people to spend time in, virtual worlds with complex societies shaped by users’ contributions.

Talking to founders and investors in the gaming space, there has been a huge increase in usage over the last few weeks as more people hang out at home playing games, whether it’s on the adult side or the kid side.

Most of these next-generation virtual worlds are still in private beta but already popular platforms like Roblox, Minecraft, and Fortnite are getting substantially more use than normal. A large portion of people stuck at home are escaping via the virtual worlds of games.

You wrote this whole analysis before you knew the extent of the pandemic — how has the outlook changed for this industry?

This accelerates the timeline of virtual worlds being a mainstream place to hang out and socialize in daily life. I think people will be at home for multiple months, not just a couple of weeks, and it’s going to change people’s perspectives on socializing and working from home.

That’s a really powerful cultural shift. It’s getting more people beyond the core gaming community excited about spending time in virtual worlds and hanging out with their friends there.

We have seen this most heavily with the youngest generation of internet users. The majority of kids 9-12 years old are users of Minecraft and Roblox who hang out there with friends after school. We’ll see that expand to older demographics more quickly than it was going to before.

One of the complaints that I’ve seen on Twitter is that even though we have one of the largest global human lockdowns of all time, all the VR headsets are basically gone. Is VR a key component of virtual worlds?

Well, you don’t need VR headsets in order to spend meaningful time with others in a virtual space. Hundreds of millions of people already do it through their mobile phones and through PCs and consoles.

This is at the heart of the gaming industry: creating virtual worlds for people to spend time in, both pursuing the mission of whatever a game is designed for but also interacting with others. Among the most popular mobile and PC games last year were massively multiplayer online (MMO) games.

Talking about gaming, one facet of the story that I thought was particularly interesting was the fact that gaming was still not that high in terms of market penetration in the population.

More than two billion people play video games in the context of a year. There’s incredible market penetration in that sense. But, at least for the data I’ve seen for the U.S., the percent of the population who play games on a given day is still much lower than the percent of the population who use social media on a given day.

The more that games become virtual worlds for socializing and hanging out beyond just the mission of the gameplay, the more who will turn to virtual worlds as a social and entertainment outlet when they have five minutes free to do something on their phone. Social media fills these small moments in life. MMO games right now don’t because they are so oriented around the gameplay, which takes time and uninterrupted focus. Virtual worlds in the vein of those on Roblox where you just hang out and explore with friends compete for that time with Instagram more directly.

Theater chains like Regal and AMC announced this week that they are entirely shutting down to wait out the pandemic. Is that going to affect these virtual world companies?

I think they are separate parts of media. Cinema attendance has been declining quite substantially for years, and the way the industry has made up for that is trying to turn cinemas into these premium experiences and increasing ticket prices. Kids are just as likely, if not more likely, to play a game together on a Friday night as they are to go to the cinema. Cinemas are less culturally relevant to young people than they once were.

We’ve seen a massive experiment in work from home, which is a form of virtual world, or at least, a virtual workplace. When it comes to popularizing virtual worlds, is it going to come from the entertainment side or the more productivity-oriented platforms?

It will come from the entertainment side, and from younger people using it to socialize, in part because there’s less fear around cultural etiquette compared to people meeting in a business setting who are worried about a virtual world context not feeling as professional. Over time, as virtual worlds become pervasive in our social lives they will become more natural places to chat with people about business as well.

As more and more people are working online and interacting virtually, a big question is how you get beyond Zoom calls or the technology that’s currently in the market for virtual conferences to something that feels more like walking around and chatting with people in person. It’s tough to do without the ability to walk around a virtual space. You can’t have those unplanned small group or one-on-one interactions with people you don’t know if you’re just boxes within a Zoom call or some other broadcast. It will be interesting to see what develops around virtual business conferences that stems from virtual world technology. I’ve seen a few teams exploring this.

Last question here, but we are looking at a major recession in the economy, and so how does the landscape of people earning money from virtual worlds change with coronavirus?

The second-to-last article in my series is about the virtual economies around virtual worlds. Any virtual world inherently has commerce and people have already been making real-world money from games and from early virtual worlds like Second Life.

Both people staying home amid the coronavirus and the recession that we seem to be entering are pressures that will push more people to look online for ways to make money. That will only increase the activity of virtual economies around some of these worlds, whether those are formally built into the game or they’re happening in a gray or black market around the games (which is more common).

Thanks, Eric.

Social – TechCrunch

Effective SEO copywriting hints to increase your traffic in 2020

March 21, 2020 No Comments

This article focuses on how to rank well in search engines through search engine optimization, while also maintaining the quality of your SEO copywriting.

If you’ve ever written for the web, you definitely know that search engines play some role in web copy traffic. SEO copywriting can maximize the number of visitors you receive from search engines, simply because visitors are using the keyword phrase of your article to search for content.

However, while ranking well on search engines does have its benefits, you can’t ignore your readers either. You still need to provide quality content in your SEO web copy to build trust, credibility and keep your readers coming back for more.

What is SEO copywriting for the web?

SEO web copy is web content optimized for search engine bots to increase your rankings on major search engines, like Google. By taking advantage of SEO web content writing tactics, search engines can better categorize your articles.

As your SEO articles climb higher and higher in search engine rankings, the exposure of each article increases and more visitors will see your content. The more traffic you receive, the more money you make, whether you intend to earn it from ads, affiliate sales, a product you created or your own services.

Many entrepreneurs, however, focus a little bit more on SEO, which can be a mistake if their readers are neglected. The purpose of this article is to teach you how to maximize your traffic from search engines, while also satisfying your readers and maintaining quality content.

Finding Keywords for Your SEO Web Copy

For any SEO web copy you write, you’ll need to research potential keywords to include in each article, whether you’re writing for yourself, for another company or client.

Many people use Google’s keyword tool to search for profitable keywords. When using this search tool, you’ll want to find keywords with a decent amount of global monthly search traffic (over 5,000 visitors), since it will be hard to receive much traffic from anything lower than 5,000 visitors if you rank well for the keyword phrase.

You’ll also want to make sure that the keyword phrases you use have few competing websites also trying to rank for those keywords. To do this, determine the Keyword Effectiveness Index (KEI), according to Michael Fleischner, marketing professional and author of the ‘book SEO Made Simple’.

What does this really mean?

The KEI or Keyword Effectiveness Index is actually a formula which helps compare the number of searches for the terms or word with the number of competitive pages. This Index points out which keywords have the higher search with lowest ranking competition which can be the most effective for your campaign.

The process is simple

To begin with, find the KEI of a certain keyword by first doing a search for the keyword phrase you want to use in your SEO Web Copy. Then, search for the keyword phrase on a search engine you prefer, whether it is on Google, or any other search engine. Finally, divide the number of global monthly visitors by the number of websites in the search results (these websites are competing for your keyword phrase).

A KEI greater than 1 is a good number, since fewer competitors are trying to rank for the keyword phrase, and you have a good chance of ranking well for the search term. Any keyword phrases with a KEI of less than 1 will be harder to rank well with, and you should find another keyword phrase to use in your SEO article.

Let’s take, for example, a hypothetical number of 300 searches a month for your specific keyword. Google shows 225.400 results based on that keyword. To understand the ratio of competitive pages versus popularity, just take the 300 and divide it by 225,400. The result is 0.0013, such a low KEI meaning that specific keyword is, most likely, NOT a good one for you to go for.

If you’re having trouble finding a good keyword phrase with lesser competition, try breaking up the phrase into smaller categories. For example, instead of using the keyword phrase “dog treats,” try using “cheap dog treats” or “nutritional dog treats”.

Maintaining quality in SEO web copy

As mentioned earlier, you need to write quality articles for the web copy to be any good. After all, why should readers read what you say and buy into the information you provide if you’re only writing for search engines? Put your readers before search engines and make sure that your SEO web copy sounds natural.

A good way to do this is to limit your keyword density to less than five percent. To determine the keyword density, just divide the number of keyword phrases used in the SEO web copy by the number of total words in the entire article. Then, multiply the resulting number by 100 to get the percentage.

According to Brian Clark, founder of CopyBlogger:

“The only way to tell if your repetition of keywords is super or spammy is to measure that frequency against the overall length of the content. A keyword density greater than 5.5% could make you guilty of keyword stuffing and your page could be penalized by Google. You don’t need to mindlessly repeat keywords to optimize. In fact, if you do, you’re likely to achieve the opposite result.”.

Backlinking SEO articles

Major search engines also look at how many links are pointing to your articles, so it’s a good idea to backlink your SEO web copy to increase search engine rankings. To do this, here are some “hints” for linking based on generally accepted best practices:

  • Link back to relevant inner pages of your site or other sites.
  • Learn from the biggest brands in your industry what kind of anchor texts that work for a long-term perspective …Keep it natural.
  • Link “fairly early” back to relevant content in the body copy.
  • Link back to relevant webpages approximately every 120 words of content.

You might also receive backlinks naturally if your SEO web copy provides the highest quality content. Natural backlinks are better than backlinks you create since people who are genuinely interested in your content will want to talk about it and share it with others.

These SEO tactics are obviously not the only ones to help increase your traffic, but they are certainly among the well-known to significantly influence the ranking by major search engines and help drive more traffic to your website. Therefore, by considering them, you stand the best chance of considerably optimizing the ranking of your website and build your traffic flow.

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

The post Effective SEO copywriting hints to increase your traffic in 2020 appeared first on Search Engine Watch.

Search Engine Watch

Twitter broadly bans any COVID-19 tweets that could help the virus spread

March 19, 2020 No Comments

You don’t have to go far to find someone online downplaying the severity of a global pandemic that’s shut down entire economies and ground everyday life to a halt. Knowing that, Twitter will take extra steps to remove tweets that put people at risk of contracting the novel coronavirus as it rapidly sweeps through communities around the globe.

On Wednesday, Twitter updated its safety policy to prohibit tweets that “could place people at a higher risk of transmitting COVID-19.” The new policy bans tweets denying expert guidance on the virus, encouraging “fake or ineffective treatments, preventions and diagnostic techniques” as well as tweets that mislead users by pretending to be from health authorities or experts.

In its blog post, Twitter says that it will “require people to remove Tweets” in these cases and we’ve asked the company for more clarification on what that looks like.

Update: Twitter indicated that it will take context like account history into account in making its enforcement determinations, which it says remain unchanged. As far as having users remove offending tweets, according to the company’s existing guidance “When we determine that a Tweet violated the Twitter Rules, we require the violator to remove it before they can Tweet again.” A user is notified of this via email and given a chance to delete the tweet or make an appeal. While that is happening, the tweet is hidden from view.

Given the new guidelines Twitter has outlined, the platform is going to have its work cut out for it. Under the ruleset, a tweet that claims “social distancing is not effective” would be subject to removal. Twitter will also require users to delete tweets telling followers to do ineffective or dangerous things like drinking bleach, even if the tweet is “made in jest” because that content can prove harmful when taken out of context.

Twitter has also banned tweets that make calls to action encouraging other users to behave in a way counter to what health authorities recommend, with the example tweet of “coronavirus is a fraud and not real – go out and patronize your local bar!!” Some political figures have faced criticism for similar statements in recent days, including Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA) who encouraged Fox Business viewers “to just go out… go to your local pub.”

The rules will also ban tweets in which people play armchair doctor and make claims like “if you have a wet cough, it’s not coronavirus — but a dry cough is.” Users will also not be allowed to make coronavirus claims that single out groups of people based on race or nationality, like discouraging followers to eat at Chinese restaurants. Other race-based claims like John McAfee’s tweet that “Coronavirus cannot attack black people” won’t fly either.

Twitter’s new set of coronavirus-related misinformation rules is as thorough as it will be difficult to enforce. Many, many tweets would appear to fall under the deepened policy designed to prevent health misinformation from spreading on the social network.

To meet the unique challenge posed by the pandemic, Twitter said it has put a “content severity triage system” in place so that the most potentially damaging tweets can be identified and removed, with less emphasis on users flagging the tweets themselves. The company previously announced that it would be relying more heavily on automation and machine learning to act on content that violates platform rules, which Twitter admits may lead to mistakes in some cases.

In an effort to rise to the gravity of the situation, Twitter’s policies lay out an aggressive and fluid approach that we don’t always see from social networks. We’ll be following along to see how the platform experiment goes in the coming days and if Twitter can help stem the flow of potentially lethal misinformation as the world wakes up to the global threat of COVID-19.

Social – TechCrunch

Searching for CX: The impact of search in the age of customer experience

March 17, 2020 No Comments

With customer experience (CX) becoming an integral part of doing business today, CXOs across industries are working feverishly to delight consumers along each step of the buyer journey. At a high level, ensuring a positive CX means eliminating the friction between the customer and the brand.

Today, an overwhelming majority of these journeys begin on search engines. However, recent research shows that a pervasive confusion with how search works are having a negative impact on customer experience.

With brands continuing to deploy hefty budgets towards their online campaigns, and search engines continuing to evolve how they display results, it’s more crucial than ever for marketing teams to understand just how search is impacting CX, as well as what they can do to safeguard the experiences they’re providing.

Consumer confusion is growing as ad spend skyrockets

With paid search surpassing $ 100 billion for the first time in 2019, and accounting for almost a fifth of total global ad spend, there’s no doubting the important role it plays in today’s digital marketing mix. In fact, by the end of this year, companies are projected to increase their spend on search even further as it grows to represent a third of global spending.

Consumer confusion is growing alongside this spend, resulting in 63% of US consumers reporting that they don’t know how search engine results work. Just 37% understand that they’re in fact categorized by a combination of both relevancy and spend. Compounding this issue is the fact that more than one-in-three-consumers state they don’t believe search engines do a good job of labeling ads.

As modern consumers develop increasingly high expectations of the brands they do business with, it’s easy to see why this is alarming. And as consumers place more weight on CX, brands are at risk of losing loyal buyers if these expectations aren’t met. This, combined with dwindling patience and a growing distrust of sponsored content, signifies an important conundrum for brands. In order to meet their expectations, they must ensure they’re easy to find online or risk losing business to competitors.

In search, there is no second place

When you consider consumers’ lack of understanding of how search results are served up, it is not surprising that around 54% say they trust websites more that appear at the top of the SERP.

These sentiments are certainly reflected in real-life click-through rates. The first organic search result is twice as likely to be clicked than the second result (30% CTR versus 15% CTR), while the likelihood of your website being seen declines dramatically the lower your ranking falls.

Of course, this means brands must fight to secure the coveted top spot, which leads them to spend more on paid search ads or adopt nefarious approaches like infringing on competitors’ trademarks and breaking affiliate agreements.

Consumers feel misled by search engine results

It’s no secret that consumers are becoming increasingly skeptical of advertising. Trademark-infringing search strategies and tactics to increase positioning certainly aren’t helping either.

In fact, a staggering 76% of consumers admit to at least sometimes feeling misled by search results when searching for product information online. Meanwhile, one-in-four says they often end up somewhere unexpected that isn’t relevant to their original search query.

This is bad news for brands, as it creates an exasperating customer experience and suggests that they aren’t getting optimal ROI out of the spend they are allocating towards their search campaigns.

Regain control of your ad campaigns

What does this mean for marketers? To put it simply, search has a real potential to negatively impact the customer experience. While it’s impossible for marketers to control the changes that Google or Bing makes to the SERPs, there are some important steps that they can take to ensure that their search campaigns are working for and not against them.

1. Design campaigns with CX in mind

It’s crucial for digital marketing teams to regularly refer to their customer journey map before committing to any strategic moves, and it’s an especially important step for PPC teams.

2. Make monitoring a priority

Brands must regularly check to see if partners and affiliates are abiding by their partnership agreements and if competitors are following search engine trademark rules. While you may not be able to outspend competitors with deep pockets, you can maximize click-through rates and minimize cost per clicks as you identify and submit infringing ads for a takedown. This also allows you to deepen relationships with partners that are playing by the rules and driving incremental revenue.

3. Stay on top of evolving policies

It’s crucial to stay informed of changing search engine rules and advertising policies. These policies impact how you and your competitors advertise, especially in highly-regulated industries. With the search engines updating their platforms up to several times a week (some changes going largely unnoticed and others garnering media attention) –  digital marketers need to keep up with these changes and their potential impacts on customer experience.

Your search results are the front door to your brand. However, with confusion abounding, customers often find themselves walking into an experience that they didn’t expect, which impacts their overall CX and negatively impacts the perception of your brand. By taking back control of the role that search plays in the overall consumer journey, marketers can ensure their customer experiences are optimized and on-brand.

Dave Naffziger is the CEO of leading online brand protection company BrandVerity.

The post Searching for CX: The impact of search in the age of customer experience appeared first on Search Engine Watch.

Search Engine Watch

Let’s let “KPI” die and practice what we preach

March 17, 2020 No Comments

“Key performance indicator”, KPI sounds like a phrase concocted in a lab or something that a teen came up with trying to add more words to their high school term paper.

But we use “KPI” all the time — myself included — mostly because that’s what we’ve heard other people say.

But I’m calling it. It’s time to retire “KPI” – Even though this article could be a dangerous drinking game if you sipped every time you saw the acronym.

But why?

Let’s start with the fact that thousands of people don’t even know what it stands for. Check out these monthly search volume numbers for KPI-related keywords.

Source: Keyword Surfer

As marketers, we know better than anyone that we need to speak in plain, easy-to-understand terms. And if you’re thinking, “the people searching this aren’t our potential clients”, then here’s a surprising data point.

A survey of 300+ business owners revealed only 40% knew what KPI meant. For context, 70% knew what domain authority was, and 58% knew what a backlink was.

KPI, a widely used business acronym — still isn’t even as clear as digital marketing industry terms. This is a sign, my friends

And if using jargony acronyms is in the same realm as using big words to sound smarter (which doesn’t really work), we’d be better served relying on more layman’s terms.

Practicing what we preach

Going on a rant about an acronym might seem a little dramatic. But it represents something we can all take the time to improve upon, communicating clearly.

Instead of strictly talking KPIs, focus on these two things:

1. Having the right conversations about metrics with clients/stakeholders

In some cases, I’ve seen identifying and focusing solely on KPIs have a blinding effect on the greater context of a situation.

That’s not to say that having KPIs aren’t useful if used correctly. But it can be easy to slip into the practice of only reporting on certain elements to leadership, which can impact the way your work is perceived by stakeholders and influence what actions are taken going forward.

So instead of KPIs? Let’s talk about “metrics”. It’s more general, yes, but it also allows you to tell a more comprehensive, nuanced story. Here are some examples to illustrate this:

Example one – You run your company’s blog

You run your company’s blog, and your KPI has been the number of conversions of people signing up for your email list.

But let’s ask some other questions.

  • How many of those people are opening the emails you send?
  • How many people immediately unsubscribe versus those who’ve stayed on for months?
  • What percentage of people landing on certain blog posts are converting compared to other posts?
  • How many people have gone through the lead funnel, and which posts can be attributed as the start of that? (Perhaps posts have led people to explore more on the site but not sign up for the email list, does that mean they aren’t effective?)

Example two

You run a Twitter contest, and your KPI is a number of Twitter followers added.

Yes, it’s good to have more social followers in order to expand your reach and have an outlet of communication to your audience. But also consider these questions:

  • How many of the people following you are relevant to your brand/industry?
  • How many unfollow the account after the contest is over?
  • How many of those people have engaged with anything you’ve posted after a month?
  • Basically, we’re getting at this question: What value are these new followers adding?

Example three

You’re doing content marketing + digital PR, and your KPI is a number of acquired links.

There’s more to examine than a raw number of links. Most importantly, what is the quality of those links? A link from USA Today is not equal to a link from someone’s Tumblr.

  • How much referral traffic are you receiving from being linked in these news articles?
  • Is any of it converting? Additionally, there are other benefits to this work.
  • How is the brand referenced in the media story? (Is the brand mention above the fold?) Is the brand framed authoritatively?

By broadening things out from simply the “KPI”, we can see the whole journey of how digital marketing works, which helps inform your leadership of how everything works together. It’s up to you to communicate these relationships succinctly, but they’re very valuable to include.

2. Literally communicating more clearly

As marketers, we know better than anyone that we need to speak in plain, easy-to-understand terms so people know exactly what we mean. 

Especially with online content, if we don’t immediately get to the point, we can lose the readers’ attention, and all of the hard work creating our content is useless.

That’s not to say we should cut out all jargon. Some of it exists for a reason — because no other word really defined the concept in the first place.

I consider ROI (return on investment) to fall into this category. Sure, you can say “results”, but that’s very broad and also doesn’t get to the core of what ROI means: Did we make our money back and more?

Next time you’re drafting a status report or email, use the old writing trick of confirming that every word has a necessary meaning.

As the author of The Elements of Style, William Strunk Jr, famously said,

“Omit needless words.”


Can you focus on certain metrics more than others? Of course. But changing your approach to creating a “family” of metrics you use and report on can really help change perspectives and see the broader picture of how well things are working.

We’re all busy, and our communication isn’t always measured. But take a moment next time you write up something important and check: Is this really want I want to say and the most efficient, clear way to say it?

Amanda Milligan is the Marketing Director at Fractl, a prominent growth marketing agency that’s worked with Fortune 500 companies and boutique businesses.

The post Let’s let “KPI” die and practice what we preach appeared first on Search Engine Watch.

Search Engine Watch

Twitter rewrites Developer Policy to better support academic research and use of ‘good’ bots

March 11, 2020 No Comments

Twitter today updated its Developer Policy to clarify rules around data usage, including in academic research, as well as its position on bots, among other things. The policy has also been entirely rewritten in an effort to simplify the language used and make it more conversational, Twitter says. The new policy has been shortened from eight sections to four, and the accompanying Twitter Developer Agreement has been updated to align with the Policy changes, as well.

One of the more notable updates to the new policy is a change to the rules to better support non-commercial research.

Twitter data is used to study topics like spam, abuse and other areas related to conversation health, the company noted, and it wants these efforts to continue. The revised policy now allows the use of the Twitter API for academic research purposes. In addition, Twitter is simplifying its rules around the redistribution of Twitter data to aid researchers. Now, researchers will be able to share an unlimited number of Tweet IDs and/or User IDs, if they’re doing so on behalf of an academic institution and for the sole purpose of non-commercial research, such as peer review, says Twitter.

The company is also revising rules to clarify how developers are to proceed when the use cases for Twitter data change. In the new policy, developers are informed that they must notify the company of any “substantive” modification to their use case and receive approval before using Twitter content for that purpose. Not doing so will result in suspension and termination of their API and data access, Twitter warns.

The policy additionally outlines when and where “off-Twitter matching” is permitted, meaning when a Twitter account is being associated with a profile built using other data. Either the developer will need to obtain opt-in consent from the user in question, or they can only proceed if the information was provided by the person or is based on publicly available data.

The above changes are focused on ensuring Twitter data is accessible when being used for something of merit, like academic research, and that it’s protected from more questionable use cases.

Finally, the revamped policy clarifies that not all bots are bad. Some even enhance the Twitter experience, the company says, or provide useful information. As examples of good bots, Twitter pointed to the fun account @everycolorbot and informative @earthquakesSF.

Twitter identifies a bot as any account where behaviors like “creating, publishing, and interacting with Tweets or Direct Messages are automated in some way through our API.”

Going forward, developers must specify if they’re operating a bot account, what the account is, and who is behind it. This way, explains Twitter, “it’s easier for everyone on Twitter to know what’s a bot – and what’s not.”

Of course, those operating bots for more nefarious purposes — like spreading propaganda or disinformation — will likely just ignore this policy and hope not to be found out. This particular change follows the recent finding that a quarter of all tweets about climate change were coming from bots posting messages of climate change denialism. In addition, it was recently discovered that Trump supporters and QAnon conspiracists were using an app called Power10 to turn their Twitter accounts into bots.

Twitter says since it introduced a new developer review process in July 2018, it has reviewed over a million developer applications and approved 75%. It also suspended more than 144,000 apps from bad actors in the last six months and revamped its developer application to be easier to use. It’s now working on the next generation of the Twitter API and is continuing to explore new products, including through its testing program, Twitter Developer Labs.

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Facebook bans face mask ads to fight coronavirus price gouging

March 9, 2020 No Comments

On Friday, Facebook announced that it would further attempt to limit coronavirus-related chaos on its platform by banning commerce listings and advertisements for medical face masks.

“We’re monitoring COVID19 closely and will make necessary updates to our policies if we see people trying to exploit this public health emergency,” Facebook Director of Product Management Rob Leathern said in an update on Twitter. “We’ll start rolling out this change in the days ahead.”

“We are temporarily banning advertisements and commerce listings that sell medical face masks,” a Facebook spokesperson told TechCrunch. “Our teams are monitoring the COVID19 situation closely and will make necessary updates to our policies if we see people trying to exploit this public health emergency.”

Facebook will also limit any ads for medical products that imply a limited supply or create a sense of urgency among potential buyers, as well as ads that make guarantees for COVID-19 “cures” or prevention. Along with those changes, in the next few days Facebook will begin blocking coronavirus-themed groups and pages from its algorithmic recommendations.

As fears of a novel coronavirus epidemic swell worldwide, online platforms have scrambled to stop price gouging and health misinformation. Amazon is working to eradicate “high priced offers” on products like hand sanitizer and face masks from its marketplace, while Ebay has banned all listings for N95 and N100 face masks, hand sanitizer and alcohol wipes. The online auction site will also reject any listings exploiting terms like “COVID-19” and “coronavirus.”

On Wednesday, Senator Ed Markey (D-MA) wrote an open letter to Amazon’s Jeff Bezos expressing concern over “continued reports of price gouging and a lack of transparency” on the site.

“No one should be allowed to reap a windfall from fear and human suffering,” Markey wrote, adding that online retailers have a “particular responsibility” to protect consumers in the midst of the coronavirus outbreak.

Earlier this week, Facebook announced that coronavirus-related searches on its platform would be greeted with an automatic pop-up featuring information from the World Health Organization and local health authorities.

“Given the developing situation, we’re working with national ministries of health and organizations like the WHO, CDC and UNICEF to help them get out timely, accurate information on the coronavirus,” Mark Zuckerberg wrote in an update on his company’s efforts. “We’re giving the WHO as many free ads as they need for their coronavirus response along with other in-kind support.”

The company is also focused on curtailing potentially life-threatening coronavirus misinformation, removing ads, conspiracy theories and treatment claims with no scientific basis. Facebook’s decision to disable ads for face masks comes at a time when health authorities are urging well people to forgo buying the masks, both because they are not necessary for healthy individuals to wear and because demand for the masks is constricting their supply for the medical workers who need them most.

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