14 awesome articles & an inspired infographic I enjoyed in July

July reads blog

Another month bites the dust. Some how we’re in August and the football season is about to start again. I know I say this every month, but 2016 really is flying by – anyway, time for my usual roundup of great reading that you might have missed.

My selection for July covers plenty of big topics, including algorithms, Facebook Live and, of course, Pokemon Go. As always with these roundups, do try and find the time to go through and read the full articles – they’re all really worth your time.

Before we get cracking though, I’m sure you also want your monthly guinea pig update? Well, Lizzie and Angus are currently not that accessible, as the room that houses their cage is full to the brim while we deocrate our living room, so they’re hidden behind sofas, drawers and other random bits. They still make sure they’re heard at feeding time though – they’re just a pain to get to! However, that should all change this Friday when we get our new carpet fitted and we can put the living room back together.

Right, on with the good reading…

1. More human than human: a social media TOV trap (by Chris Nee)

I always pay attention to what my friend Chris Nee posts on his blog as it’s always gold, and this thoughtful piece about ‘being human’ on social media is no exception. We’ve probably all been telling people to be human on social media for years (I know I have), but does that mean we’re all going to end up sounding just like everyone else? How do brands get any cut through in that environment?

Key quote:

Brands that simply shoot for “human” end up sounding like everyone else, from their customers to their equally ill-prepared competitors. It’s all the same. All lols and emojis. All little jokes and cloying positivity. They’re all Innocent.

Read the full article

2. As Online Video Surges, Publishers Turn to Automation (by John Herrman, New York Times)

Now, this piece REALLY caught my attention. It looks at how some publishers are starting to automate their video production to allow them to produce literally hundred a day. Why do this? Because video is so lucrative in terms of advertising and engagement. This is a fascinating look at where video from big publishers could be heading – by using software that automatically finds suitable stock shots to illustrate their articles, which, coupled with some decent captions, make the perfect mix for all those many people who watch videos with the sound off.

Key quote:

The level of human intervention before publishing is up to the clients. They can be hands-on from the start, making edits, adding original material and using the tools to speed things along. Or they can let the machines do almost all the work — betting that it will be good enough for viewers — or, at least, for advertisers.

Read the full article

3. Pokémon Go isn’t a fad. It’s a beginning (by Ezra Klein, Vox Technology)

I wasn’t going to get through a roundup from July without talking about Pokemon Go, was I? You won’t struggle to find articles written about that game that has taken the world by storm, but this one on Vox was the best I came across, mainly because it didn’t get too hyped up around Pokemon but instead gave some thought around what the game everyone is obsessed with right now could mean for the future. In short, Pokemon Go is the spark that could light the fuse to an explosion of augmented reality apps and products.

Key quote:

Augmented reality begins with Pokémon. It begins as a toy. But it won’t remain a toy. It’s going to become an industry, a constant, a coping mechanism, a way of life. It will change how we spend our time, how we compete for status, how we interact with our loved ones.

Read the full article

While we’re talking Pokemon, it’s worth throwing in an opposing, some might say more cynical, viewpoint, which are exactly the kind of adjectives you usually expect to use when describing a column by Mark Ritson. His piece on the ‘real lesson of Pokemon Go’ is grounded, sobering and, as always, highly entertaining.

4. I rejected a candidate based on what I saw on their Facebook account. And I feel good about it. (by Nadja Brandys on LinkedIn Pulse)

This sort of case study isn’t a rare tale, but Nadja explains her decision-making really well, so I wanted to include it in my roundup. For me, no amount of examples can be enough to make people really think about what they’re sharing on their public social media profiles, and remember that said content is exactly that; public. Good on Nadja for having the convinction to do what she did.

Key quote:

My first thought was “ok, why the hell would you send an invite with pictures like these to a recruiter who is processing your application?” I clicked on the profile and that was when I’d had enough.

Read the full article

5. The Impact of Facebook’s Algorithm Change, in 5 Charts (by Joe Lazauskas, Contently)

Right, hands up who just loves battling with Facebook’s algorithm? Thought so. It’s certainly no fun. However, this excellent article and set of charts from Contently is an incredibly useful thing to keep in your pocket/bookmarks bar and will give you plenty of insight to put into your next strategy update.

Key quote:

By comparison, link posts (which drive traffic to publishers’ sites) and Instant Articles (which contain lucrative ads) are much easier to monetize. There lies the problem: Publishers can go with the trend and invest in Facebook video, but they’re gambling that it’ll pay off eventually. In that way, Facebook is starting to feel like a virtual Foxwoods. The table games might change, but the house always wins.

Read the full article

6. jobpocalypse: how I learned to survive redundancy (by Ben Capper, Comms2Point0)

Ben Capper is really smart. I like him a lot and am thrilled to think he’s just joined the Higher Education sector. However, I didn’t know he’d gone through redundancy recently – this blog is a really honest and uplifting take on a potentially very unsettling and upsetting time in your life – well worth a read. It will also make you pay more attention to your LinkedIn profile…just in case.

Key quote:

Throughout this process at various points, I found myself saying “yes but that’s a worst case scenario” only for those scenarios (or worse) to come true. When this happens your mind starts playing tricks. And before you know it you’re spending Christmas in your parents’ box room with your wife and baby, whilst packing shelves for minimum wage in Home and Bargain (it’s a Merseyside thing).

Read the full article

7. Instagram Provides New Overview of Brand Profiles and Analytics (by Andrew Hutchinson, Social Media Today)

Instagram analytics are coming – finally! Slowly but surely, brand sare being given the option to switch their instagram profile to a business page and with it get access to some analytics. It’s being rolled out in the USA and Australia first, but I’ve no doubt it’ll be in the UK soon. This piece gives you a sneak peek at what will be on offer.

Key quote:

There’s a heap of data to go through here, and Instagram’s made it easy to get more specific insights on each by clicking through on the various options provided. These insights have the potential to change how you approach the platform – when you post, how you post and who you need to reach. And while most brands probably have some understanding of these elements already, having platform specific data, direct from the platform itself, has huge value.

Read the full article

8. How BBC Three is using social platforms (by Jessica Davies, Digiday UK)

Remember earlier this year when BBC Three moved online? That meant a big change for how it approached its use of social media, as they didn’t have live programming to promote and get people to talk about in real time. This excellent piece from Digiday digs into what the youth-focused channel has been doing on social since February and what sort of content they’re posting to their 1 million Facebook fans, 716,000 Twitter followers, 43,000 Instagram followers and growing community on Snapchat.

Key quote:

But building awareness doesn’t just mean volume. It’s selective about what it creates, so as not to bombard. Currently, it publishes an average of five pieces to Facebook a day, one Facebook Live video a week, four to Instagram and 20 on Twitter. With Snapchat, there’s no set amount yet.

Read the full article

9. Facebook Live now lets you stream up to 4 hours of video (by Ken Yeung, Venture Beat)

I guess this move has only been a matter of time, but I was still impressed and pleased to see that Facebook Live will now let you not only stream longer but also go fullscreen. I’ve experimented with a couple of of Live videos for my band WAVE, and the square crop did make it tricky to get the whole band in frame…and there’s only two of us. It will be fascinating to see Facebook Live continue to grow over the coming months – I wonder if Periscope is worried (or whether it will just change its name to Twitter Live)?

Key quote:

When Facebook Live launched last year, broadcasts were limited to 2 hours in length, but now that limitation has doubled. The social networking company said that viewers and publishers had requested the ability to livestream longer, and so now it’s possible across both Facebook’s app and the Live API.

Read the full article

10. Olympic Committee may sue if brands use hashtags or images from Rio games (by Nate Swanner, The Next Web)

As social media pros, we all love big events like the Olympic Games, because it means there will be hashtags floating around that we can contribute to and help spread our reach. However, it looks like that won’t be the case for any brands who sponsor athletes – apparently they aren’t allowed to use even general hashtags like #Rio2016 or #TeamUSA and are even being told not to use words like ‘Olympian’. Quite wether the threatened legal action will actually happen remains to be seen, but, when the IOC has been dragging its heels around making a decision over whether Russia should be allowed to compete, their speed at trying to crush any non-official brands doesn’t send the best message – especially as media outlets can continue to cover the Games as they would want to. In the USA, brands aren’t even allowed to retweet the official Olympic account!

Key quote:

The USOC will let a media entity (like The Next Web) use images, tweets or posts from its official channels — but not brands. According to ESPN, the letter says companies sponsoring athletes “cannot reference any Olympic results, cannot share or repost anything from the official Olympic account and cannot use any pictures taken at the Olympics.

Read the full article

There’s also a comprehensive list of everything you supposedly can’t do as a brand on social media during the Olympics over on AdWeek – give it a look!

11. Infographic: The Absolutely Ridiculous Amount of Content Consumed Every Minute (by Nicole Dieker, Contently)

Back to Contently for some more visual goodies – this time a cracking infographic about how much content is consumed online every minute. I’ve already shared this on Twitter and LinkedIn, but it’s so good I had to include it again here – some of the numbers are mad!

Key quote:

In the first 60 seconds of your day, Facebook receives over 4 million likes. More than 2 million Instagram hearts turn red. Nearly 350,000 tweets join the birds singing outside your window.

Read the full article

12. How I Hacked the Instagram Algorithm Like a Teen (by Taylor Loren on LinkedIn Pulse)

I found this article incredibly interesting but also a bit scary and a little depressing – teens appear to be so obsessed with harvesting likes on Instagram rather than seeking out value or engagement. It can’t be good for their health? The approach practice by Taylor for this piece would certainly not be something I would suggest doing (and that goes for both brands and individuals), but as an experiment into the mindset of how millions of teens are using Instagram, this is an important read.

Key quote:

If you’re a teen and you want to get more likes, all you have to do is visit a recent post on Kylie Jenner’s Instagram and click to view the comments. For every person that comments “lb,” (which is nearly all of them) just go to their profile, like a photo, and they’ll like one of your photos back. Repeat this until your thumbs get tired, and you’ll have racked up the likes in no time. It’s shocking how quickly teens reciprocate with likes, it’s as if they’ve created this community where they understand each other’s insecurities and want to help each other out. That, or they just want more likes on their Instagram photos and will do whatever they can to get it.

Read the full article

13. ‘We were wasting time churning out tweets’: The Economist guide to quality over quantity (by Lucinda Southern, Digiday)

A fascinating look at how the Economist is shifting from quantity to quality on its Twitter feed. This approach – particularly on a channel as noisy as Twitter, where you can get away with posting a lot – shows a real confidence in their content and their audience and really helps reinforce the Economist’s brand values.

Key quote:

To keep up the reputation of the brand on social media, it’s wary of posts that could seem like clickbait, and so the writers re-work the copy to tease out the most intelligent element of the piece to keep up the standard.

Read the full article

14. 7 Social Media Metrics that Really Matter—and How to Track Them (by Sarah Dawley, Hootsuite)

We’ll all keen to know what we should be tracking, so this list of seven metrics is most useful. Even better, this post sets out exactly how you go about tracking them – bonus! Thanks Hootsuite! Sure, a chunk of these ‘how to’ tips involve using Hootsuite’s pro software, but it’s still useful for inspiration.

Key quote:

Your conversation rate is the ratio of comments per post to the number of overall followers (or Page Likes) you have. You can do this for one of your social networks in particular, or all of them. This helps you determine how much of your audience is compelled to add their voice to the content you post on social. Or as Kaushik puts it: “Is what you are saying interesting enough to spark the most social of all things: a conversation?”

Read the full article

BONUS INFOGRAPHIC! The many faces of influence (by Traackr)

Working with influencers continues to grow as a strategy, but how can you make the most of doing it? This infographic from Traackr makes it really clear, defining who these different influencers are and, crucially, what you can offer them that will keep them happy. If you’re looking at doing this sort of marketing, keep this graphic handy.

Check it out

That’s it for this month – did I miss any great articles? Let me know in the comments!

Don’t forget, I’d love you to follow me on Twitter and Instagram, and connect with me on LinkedIn too. I’m also trying to be better at Snapchat so why not add me on there too? You can find me on this link or scan my snapcode below.

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