OMG – You won’t believe how Facebook’s new updates are going to slap posts like this in the face

Ouch. It’s bad news for Upworthy and other clickbait-y types of sites that promise to “blow your mind” with each and every post they publish.

Early this week, Facebook announced two new newsfeed updates that will affect most brand pages.

On the click-bait front, they are going to de-prioritise posts “with a headline that encourages people to click to see more, without telling them much information about what they will see.”

Here’s how it’s going to work: the algorithm will check how much time the user spends on the web page before going back to Facebook. In addition, it will look at the ratio between clicks and likes/comments.

The second update will prioritise posts that show links in the ‘link format’, rather than hyperlinks embedded on photo captions.

So this


rather than this

pic1Good luck and happy posting!

Buzzfeed is like a Bond villain stroking a cat in a plush leather chair


So, I never really thought about it like this before but all those quizzes about what city you are or what type of underwear represents your personality on Buzzfeed is really just an ingenious diabolical way to collect demographic information about their readers to use for advertising.

I can practically hear the maniacal laughing.

via Grow

[gsummit] The art of Google ads

One of the more interesting talks at the GSummit conference – though one that didn’t have the best attendance; I guess an talk on the arts is a hard sell to marketers – was by Erik Gensler from Capacity Interactive.

His presentation was on doing online marketing for dance companies and other arts organizations. Obviously pretty niche, but also really interesting. Two things really stood out to me.

Ask Robert Battle

1) They created a website that helped people pick out the right show for them. Users answered questions on what type of music they liked, when they were available, how much they wanted to pay, etc. and then the site gave them options for shows that fit their criteria. This was particularly successful for getting in newbies to the arts scene who were interested but had no idea where to start.

It seems to me that some organizations that are trying to promote grass roots action could really do with something similar that would recommend activities people could take based on their skill set, time commitment, etc. I imagine people would be more willing to follow through if they received a customized action plan.

2) Use Google ads to creep on people. As a follow up to the recommendation engine they also set up there Google Analytics to track users who went a certain amount through the process but then did not by tickets. With that info they then had Google serve up ads to those people for tickets to their shows. The idea being that a lot of the people who abandon the process are interested but leave for a variety of reasons and that by seeing the ad they’ll be prompted to pick the process back up. You see this a lot with online stores when you leave with things in the shopping cart unbought.

Again I could see a non-profit application for something like this for people who don’t end up signing petitions or who stopped in the middle of the donation process.

The slides from his presentation are embedded below.

Facebook is an app more than a site

facebook-mobileFacebook’s most recent earnings report shows that they have 1.32 billion users a month. Of that more than a billion people logged on to Facebook using a mobile device and around a third of all users only access Facebook on mobile devices.

That’s huge and the trend is upwards with a growth of 31%. Anyone doing any sort of campaigning or advertising on Facebook really needs to consider how that works in a mobile environment.

via The Verge

Can activism be a game?


Last month, I had the chance to go down to San Francisco and attend GSummit, a conference on gamification. Gamification has become a little bit of an obsession lately so I was looking forward to the conference and it turned out to be better than I expected.

So what’s gamification? It’s the idea of learning the principles of why we enjoy games and then shifting those same lessons onto other contexts. Usually gamification is used to encourage people to do things that they know they should do that they can’t motivate themselves to do.

A nice clear example is fitness apps. Everyone knows they should work out but most people have to drag themselves to the gym. Let’s look at running apps. At one extreme you have simple apps like Fitocracy, which awards you points for working out and lets you compete with friends. On the other extreme you have apps like Zombies, Run!, which has you listen to a story as you run; every once in a while, zombies will attack and you have to run as fast as you can. Once the danger has passed, you can return to jogging. (Some of you may recognize that this is actually interval training.)

Gamification doesn’t have to be as game-like as all that though (sounds weird I know). At my job we have a lot of complicated legal processes that we try and walk people through. We do a lot to “dumb it down” so that you don’t need a law degree to figure it out but, well, the law is inaccessible and there’s only so much you can do. Invariably we’re going to lose people along the way because the process is hard.

Which brings us back to something I hinted at earlier: gamification is really just the application of the behavioural psychology of motivation. The process is hard so how do we get people to maintain the motivation that they started with? Most legal issues (or really any big issue) can’t be solved in one sitting. They take time and, as that time passes, things crop up in their lives that affect how motivated they are.

Or outside of that context, how do you transition someone from reading a blog post, signing a survey, etc. to take more substantive action either online or in the real world? One of the keynote speakers at the conference was BJ Fogg, who is a professor at Stanford. To oversimplify his talk to one sentence: for someone to do a certain behaviour, they need to be motivated to do it, have the ability to do it, and then have the thought to do it. So you need to break those elements down into their component parts and figure out how to exploit them to encourage people to take action. In principle this sounds really simple but in practice I think it’s a lot harder. I’m keen to do some experimenting and testing.

BJ Fogg

Over the next few weeks I’ll be posting some highlights and ideas that I found interesting here.

[Random note] I’m not sure if it’s encouraging or not that so many talks ended with notes about not using gamification for evil. I mean it’s good that it was said but it’s bad it had to be said.

This is just neat: lego man protests shell when you tweet

Alright, this is just a neat project. You may have heard that Greenpeace is running a campaign now to have Lego end their partnership with Shell. That campaign inspired Brian Fitzgerald (FYI – friend of the blog and my former boss) to build a lego diorama of an oil rig protest. When people tweet out #BLOCKSHELL the little protestor celebrates!

I love it. It’s a nice little tongue-in-cheek way to add to the discussion around the campaign. You can read about it here.

Apparently I’m not the only fan of Ethan Zuckerman

Ethan Zuckerman likes to talk about cute cats. Well, everyone on the internet likes to talk about cute cats but he does it academically. No, seriously. See, he has this theory called the Cute Cat Theory of Digital Activism. It says that cute cats, and really all the innocuous things on the internet that amuse us, act as a cover for digital activism. So you want to sneak your activism into platforms that people care about and not cordon yourself in an activist ghetto. That way it’s harder to censor you since people will be pissed if the government takes away your internet kittens.

Cats of Jihad

Well apparently this has been picked up by fighters in Syria and Iraq. I mean #CatsofJihad is a thing. This really shouldn’t surprise me as it’s a pretty basic application of some online campaigning basics but still.

via The Verge