Digital media disruptions XVIII - bad press, notification noise, and beating Facebook's algo

Profile picture for user jreed By Jon Reed August 3, 2017
In this edition - getting the best of Facebook's algorithm, and a better approach to the social mob. Plus: avoiding notification overload and the Trump attention suck.

Yep - it's time for another media disruptions gut check - the enterprisey review. Rules: I pick the impactful stories from my media disruptions channel and give them a hard look from the enterprise side - along with a course of action. This series is NOT geared for the media industry, but for enterprises looking to win audiences.

Lead story - Does Bad Press Affect Consumer Behavior? Surprising New Data on Uber and United 
by: Eliran Sapir
key excerpt: "You've seen the constant barrage of negative stories and social media flare ups that have surrounded United and Uber this year. The negative press and reasons behind it do have consequences, as seen by the ouster of Travis Kalanick as Uber's CEO, but not necessarily when it comes to consumers spending dollars. You would not be alone in thinking people have abandoned these companies but you would be absolutely wrong."

How much should brands really care about social media outcries? If United can keep on breaking guitars and disrespecting passengers, why sweat the enraged social mob, and the sensational articles it spawns?

enterprise relevance: medium - most enterprises spend enough on social media monitoring. They need a plan for how to act - or not - on the feedback that surfaces.

best course of action:

  • Take social media sentiment seriously, but not with a firefighting mentality. Use the potent clues for improvements in service, product development and marketing.
  • Win the social sentiment game by playing the long game - with happy customers. Solving the deeper issue that social media flaps point to is the win. Ignoring the ruckus because "these aren't our core customers," as this article implies you should do, is no better than a PR freakout.

Notifications: A Tragedy Of the Digital Commons
by: Scott Belsky
key excerpt: "The surplus of notifications - and a few bad actors - spoiled the channel for everyone. Right now, all apps are incentivized to throw as many different kinds of notifications our way to stand out amidst every other app’s notifications. Speaking to one founder the other day, he told me “it turns out notifications with emoji perform over 20% better."

Notifications with emoji? Please point me to the highest bridge. Scott Belsky is right though. Mobile notification noise is a danger - if not for the digital  commons he cherishes, than at least for productivity/sanity. I'm skeptical of his solution - an API Notification Layer - as I can't see third parties apps agreeing. Bonus points for big ideas though!

enterprise relevance: medium, or high if you have a mobile app. B2C companies with mobile apps need thoughtful notification design, easily controlled by the user. B2B companies might not have a customer-facing app, but apps for suppliers or workers also need the right alerts. Exception handling = useful. Constant status updates = annoying (e.g. when Slack goes wrong).

best course of action:

  • The art of opt-in is letting those who want to hear from you often do exactly that - without alienating those who want to pace their exposure.
  • Belsky advocates the use of machine learning to send only the right pings at the right time. That's too dreamy for today's enterprise - sorry AI buffs - but personalization and customization choices are worth offering in the meantime.

Why Facebook’s “Fake News” button won’t help against Russia. It’s all about the algorithm
by: Jose Duarte
key excerpt: "Russian hackers exploited Facebook’s algorithm (which it uses to decide what content appears in your news feed) to maximize their impact. I recognize a lot of the techniques they used, as I’ve been studying the Facebook algorithm for years at Dose. I’ve run hundreds of experiments and regressions trying to predict virality and understand people’s behavior. I used that knowledge to grow our Facebook pages from 400,000 to 4,000,000 in just four months."

enterprise relevance: medium, depending on your company's level of Facebook investment.

This piece has a political edge you can take or leave. The illuminating part is the detail on how Facebook's Newsfeed algo works. Some posts fly - many die on the Newsfeed vine.

best course of action:

  • Study the Facebook Newsfeed algorithm and the reactions your Business Page gets for each post. Do they have graphics? Video posts or no? Do they pose a question or share a link?
  • If Facebook's precise advertising demographics reach an audience you care about, run small campaigns as tests, particularly for those who liked your prior content.
  • Don't count on "organic reach" of your page. Advertise or pay to "boost" the most important posts. Page likes are rarely effective for organic content anymore, but they do provide a useful advertising group - which was Facebook's evil plan all along.

Effective Facebook Group Moderation [And Other Online Communities]
by: Bob Warfield
key excerpt: "Most Facebook Groups I’ve participated in are very strict about Promotions.  In many cases they insist that you not publish any links of any kind to any web property that you own, even your email. Those that do allow promotions often limit them to one post on one special day of the week. Sometimes the post has to be part of a single thread–no posting outside the thread."

This article isn't just applicable to Facebook Groups - it applies to most community moderation pursuits. Warfield's tips are ideal for companies that crave the Newsfeed visibility group posts get (much more visibility than your Business Page).

enterprise relevance: medium - according to your investment in Facebook and community moderation in general.

best course of action:

  • A popular Facebook group has much more algorithmic traction than your Business Page (Facebook, by default, will notify the heck out of group members if there is new activity. They can get away with this notification barrage because, well, they're Facebook).  The catch? You're not likely to get many folks in a business-oriented group on Facebook. If you have a lifestyle topic that connects to your brand, consider starting or joining a group on that topic.
  • As Warfield says, private messaging any group members  - even if you own/run the group - is a recipe for annoyance.

Bonus content - a few more stories worth tracking

These pieces were picked from my curated channel, enterprise media disruptions. You can also view the entire digital media disruptions series, which includes special features.