Subject To Change

Facebook Responds To New York Times Exposé, Instagram Uses Machine Learning to Fight Fraud #SubjectToChange

By November 20, 2018 No Comments

November 20, 2018: Creators criticize Facebook for its (lack of) monetization efforts, Facebook issues a rebuttal to NYT exposé, Instagram removes inauthentic activity and releases three new shopping features, LinkedIn revamps Company Pages

Here’s what’s worth knowing this week:

When You Can’t Get Enough of SNL’s Zuckerberg Dabs

The Story

Despite Facebook’s ongoing efforts and initiatives geared towards getting creators to use its products (i.e., Facebook Watch) and platform more, it’s failing to deliver in the area that matters the most to creators: helping them make money.

Talk to me about the root of the problem.

By the time a video is approved for ad displays (aka when creators make money), the potential for revenue is already lost. When considering that the bulk of a Creator’s video views come within the first 24 hours, the ongoing delays and loss of revenue potential are a point of contention for Creators on the platform. A U.K.-based Creator said that for five recent videos (which have accumulated more than 6.4 million views), he’s earned “less than the price of a McDonald’s happy meal – after currency conversion.”

What are Creators saying?

“Facebook doesn’t do anything accidentally; it’s a huge company. To think that they don’t have enough resources to approve your videos is off. Maybe they’re prioritizing people that have the potential for a premium ad.” In other words: Creators want transparency and they want it now.  

STC POV

If Facebook really wants to bring Creators onto its platform (and keep them there), it needs to apply the same rigor and attention to the Creator Experience on Facebook that it applies to its users and advertisers (i.e., post turn around can’t take longer than 24 hours or it will impact Creators’ abilities to make money).

We’re calling it here – 2019 is all about the Influencer Experience. It’s not enough to make something ‘grammable’. As platforms, brands, and marketers continue to understand and recognize the value that influencers and creators bring to an organization, they will need to invest in and optimize for those experiences in 2019 if they want to be influencers’ preferred brand/platform of choice (if they haven’t done so already).

With 2019 just around the corner, consider conducting a survey with a select group of your most engaged influencers to understand what made them the most excited/frustrated when collaborating with your brand (and others) over the last year.

 

Facebook vs. The New York Times: The Thanksgiving Saga

The Story

Facebook has fired back at The New York Times for its most recent exposé, issuing a point-by-point rebuttal.

Back Up. What did The New York Times investigation say?

Spoiler alert: Facebook Zucked-Up, big time.  TLDR; the article details Facebook’s efforts on the DL to downplay and straight-up deny recent controversies, raising questions about its response to Russian manipulation, fake news, and hate speech on its platform.

Among the key takeaways: Facebook leaders knew about Russian interference as early as the spring of 2016 and failed to report it; the company feared Trump supporters after failing to remove a post where President Trump called for a ban on Muslim immigrants; and the company launched a multipronged attack and lobbying campaign geared towards pushing negative stories about its critics and competitors.

What does Facebook’s rebuttal say?

“There are a number of inaccuracies in the story.”

Facebook has also confirmed that it has cut ties with Definers Public Affairs, a conservative group that the story claims was actively promoting negative stories about competitors like Apple to draw attention away from Facebook. The rebuttal also restates Facebook’s message that it recognizes the issues, is working hard to fix them, and promises to do more. Déjà vu, anyone?

What’s Zuckerberg saying?

“I can’t be any more transparent – have you seen my skin?” Ha, #dab.

What’s going on at Facebook now?

Zuck is getting aggressive. Top execs are leaving. But it’s not all bad news. Facebook is also testing new features and raising money for charity.

STC POV

Facebook’s rebuttal to the NYT article was subpar at best – like most of its communications have been lately. However, even worse is its ongoing failures in crisis management, which the NYT defined as the continuation of the company’s “delay, deny and deflect” strategy. Instead of leading with transparency, which would help dispel the rumors and deal with the crisis, Facebook execs chose to continue to withhold and protect information, further fueling negative speculation.

Where are all the charities speaking on FB’s behalf about Giving Tuesday? Marketers have the opportunity to think of influencer marketing not just as a proactive growth opportunity, but also as something to activate in a moment of crisis. As such, it’s important that brands proactively understand who their influential brand advocates are before a crisis comes up. Often times, brand advocates will step in and defend your brand from highly negative conversation and press – something that Facebook would have greatly benefited from.   

 

Fake Followers and Engagements Are Going, Going, Gone From Instagram

The Story

Yesterday, Instagram announced plans to remove inauthentic and fraudulent likes, follows, and comments from accounts that use third-party apps to boost their popularity. 

Go on.

According to Instagram, the company has built machine-learning tools to identify and flag accounts that have purchased fraudulent followers and engagement (sound familiar?). Accounts that Instagram has flagged as using these services will receive an in-app message alerting them that Instagram has removed fake likes, follows, and comments. In addition, users will be asked to change their passwords to cut ties with these apps, warning that people who continue using these apps “may see their Instagram experience impacted… by [limiting] access to certain features, for example.”

STC POV

Timing is everything. It’s no surprise that Instagram’s latest crackdown is coming during a time when its parent company is going through an international crisis. But did it have to take this long? Probably not. Is it good enough? Probably not. Instagram’s fraud culture is also nearly a decade in the making. Although Instagram has been taking down fake accounts since at least 2014, this is the first time it has publicly discussed removing fake likes from posts.

Although this initiative is likely to take some time, marketers should monitor influencers’ follower and engagement rates to keep track of any big, dramatic changes. For marketers working with an influencer marketing platform that already has fraud and brand safety measures in place (like Mavrck), there should be no surprises. Nevertheless, as more platforms begin to penalize users for engaging in fraudulent behavior, it will be interesting to see if levels of fraudulent activity among influencers actually decrease, or if the the methods of gamifying followers and engagements just become more advanced. Too soon to tell, but we’ll keep an eye out.

 

Insta Shop ‘Til You Drop

The Story

Just in time for zee holidays, Instagram is continuing to build out its shopping features with the introduction of three new product updates.

Tell me more.

Among the updates to test in your next influencer brief:

  1. The ability to save items to your “Shopping Collection.” For any post that has shopping tags installed, users can now tap a “Save” icon that will curate the item(s) in a private Pinterest-style board.  
  2. A redesigned “Shop” section for business profiles.  For any business profile, users can tap on the “Shop” button to see product information, such as item names, prices, and posts featuring specific items.
  3. Shoppable product tags for video posts. While this feature is only currently available to a select group of brands that have opted into creating business profiles, it’s likely the feature will roll out more widely in the coming months. Business profiles who are apart of this beta test have the opportunity to include links to specific products in their videos.

STC POV

Instagram’s new shopping tools are a win-win for both retailers, marketers and consumers. With only a few days to go before entering the busiest shopping weekend of the year, Instagram is providing retailers with more ways to get their products in front of users, while providing users with a relatively seamless shopping experience. However, Instagram is not alone in this feat. Snapchat is also aggressively pursuing the shopping space, just having launched a new shopping channel in Discover.

With the plethora of new features available on Instagram, brands have the opportunity to experiment with formats and experiences they can track directly to transactions. If your brand isn’t part of the beta launch, start planning now by debriefing influencers of the new features to come.

 

LinkedIn Company Pages 2.0

The Story

LinkedIn has expanded its Company Page functionality with the launch of LinkedIn Pages, the next generation of LinkedIn Company Pages.

Tell me more.

LinkedIn Pages product lead Sparsh Agarwal said LinkedIn Pages was “built atop three key pillars:” join conversations that matter, know and grow your audience, and engage your people. Among the updates: admin page management on mobile, social listening features, content suggestions and new sharing options, and improved employee advocacy options.

STC POV

Although LinkedIn is often not seen as a platform for creators in the traditional sense, the release of these new features could make it a great whitespace for influencers and employee advocates, with first-movers having the advantage. Influencer marketers should explore the platform as they would any other new channel, seeing it as a test and learn opportunity to reach a professional audience. It’s not like people stop becoming consumers once they’re social networking for work.

ICYMI

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Making YouTube Videos Shoppable Just Got a Lot Easier for Influencers

Snapchat Releases Latest Update of Trending Topics on the Platform