Kara Swisher Rewrites Mark Zuckerberg’s Op-Ed

Kara Swisher, writing for the New York Times regarding Mark Zuckerberg’s recent op-ed in the Wall Street Journal:

But the post was essentially the greatest hits that we have heard Mr. Zuckerberg sing for a while now. He focused on the enormous advertising system that powers Facebook, while ignoring almost entirely the news from the last disastrous year, including Russian abuse of the platform, sloppy management of data, recent revelations that the company throws some pretty sharp elbows when it needs to, and more. You kind of get why Mr. Zuckerberg would want to forget it all.

Should I be annoyed by this? One person who favors Mr. Zuckerberg told me no, pointing out that the media is irked when he says nothing and even more bothered when he says something, so he cannot win whatever he does.

O.K., so instead of just criticizing, I thought I would help him with his piece, given I do this for a living and he does not, by rewriting his work. Here goes:

Kara’s piece is funny, but more importantly, it shows how much Mark Zuckerberg has to go before he can be seen as someone who truly understands what kind of havoc they’ve created.

Facebook continues to be tone deaf when it comes to answering people’s real concerns about their platform. I would more have more respect if the just came out and said: “We sell access to you, you’ll never see a dime of it, and that won’t change anytime soon.”

Walt Mosseberg on Leaving Facebook

Walt Mossberg posted this on Twitter:

Some personal news: I've decided to quit Facebook around the end of the year. I am doing this - after being on Facebook for nearly 12 years - because my own values and the policies and actions of Facebook have diverged to the point where I’m no longer comfortable there.

I am also quitting Facebook-owned Instagram and Messenger. I will remain on Twitter, and will continue to communicate via iMessage, email and SMS text with those who have my email address and/or phone number. Obviously, people who follow me here can also reach me via DM.

I am hardly the first person to quit Facebook and I am not urging anyone else to do so, or trying to spark some dump-Facebook movement. Nor am I judging anyone who remains, or everyone who works there. This is just a personal decision about where online I wish to participate.

Walt is one of the best tech columnists out there, so when he makes a statement like this it does make one want to pause and assess one’s current relationship with Facebook.

I’m in the process of evaluating my relationship with their products. If it wasn’t for my current role, I think I would out sooner.

Association of Facebook Use With Compromised Well-Being: A Longitudinal Study

New research from the American Journal of Epidemiology:

Using this rich source of data, we were able to investigate the associations of Facebook use and of real-world social network activity with self-reported physical health, self-reported mental health, self-reported life satisfaction, and BMI. Although there were some variations in the significance of the different measures across outcomes, a clear pattern emerged. Our results showed that although real-world social networks were positively associated with overall well-being, the use of Facebook was negatively associated with overall well-being.

I'll be spending next weekend pouring over this data.

Facebook’s algorithm isn’t surfacing one-third of our posts. And it’s getting worse

Kurt Gessler, Deputy Editor for Digital News at The Chicago Tribune writes:

At the Tribune, we have a fairly stable and predictable audience. We had around a half million fans at the end of March and have seen slow but steady growth in the last year. Most Facebook posts fell into the 25,000 to 50,000 reach range — with a few big successes and few spectacular failures each day, usually based on the quality of the content or the quality and creativity of the share.

But starting earlier this year, we started to see far more misses. And not reaches in the low 20,000's but 4,000 reach or 6,000 reach. Digital Editor Randi Shaffer was one of the first to notice.

Interesting post with a lot of data to back up his claim. We haven't seen the same issues with our content, however we've also greatly reduced the number of posts to Facebook that contain outside links.

Source: https://medium.com/@kurtgessler/facebooks-...

The Future of Facebook Instant Articles

Casey Newton, writing for The Verge:

...two years after it launched, a platform that aspired to build a more stable path forward for journalism appears to be declining in relevance. At the same time that Instant Articles were being designed, Facebook was beginning work on the projects that would ultimately undermine it. Starting in 2015, the company's algorithms began favoring video over other content types, diminishing the reach of Instant Articles in the feed. The following year, Facebook's News Feed deprioritized article links in favor of posts from friends and family. The arrival this month of ephemeral stories on top of the News Feed further de-emphasized the links on which many publishers have come to depend.

I think Instant Articles is good product. However, I've never been comfortable handing over content to Facebook in this manner.

Also, as the article points out, Instant Articles does not seem to fit their long term vision which is heavily based on videos. If Facebook is trying to lure large scale companies to invest in their platform, why not try to go after TV networks and create Facebook TV? This would allow them to go head to with YouTube, Netflix, and all the other players in the video industry.

Where Twitter Lost Me

I have an open love/hate relationship with Facebook. I love the community of the Church Communications Group, but I hate the interface because it lacks clear focus. Twitter on the other hand has always been more my taste. It was pure. You can post text, links, or images. The interface was straightforward and I didn't have to worry about maintaining security settings.  However, somewhere along the way Twitter lost me. It lost its ability to be a utility for me and contribute to my daily life. I don't know the exact moment it happened, but I think was when they introduced "Twitter Moments". Twitter Moments is their digest of curated news. It even has its own icon on their home screen. 

Here's the kicker... I don't find majority of the Twitter Moments news. In most cases, it's pure drivel. Don't believe me? Here's some Twitter Moments from this morning. 

"Kevin Love gets meta with his courtside Christmas sweater"

"Blake Lively and Ryan Reynolds' daughter finally has a name"

"26 everyday things Muslims did that got them kicked off planes"

Now, I never held Twitter accountable for what other users publish on their platform. However, when Twitter take on the role of curating and publishing news, then they're putting themselves in a whole new category in terms of responsibilities. 

Instead of focusing on curating faux news, Twitter should be spending time creating more tools for their users. For one, give users the ability to edit tweets (and keep a revision history for everyone to see). Work on speeding up the verification process and figure out a way to decrease the number of anonymous accounts. 

But Twitter has chosen a different course, and I think users (growth is virtually flat) and even top management have voted with their feet. It's a shame because I'm thinking about doing the same.  

Cal Newport on Digital Minimalism

Georgetown Professor Cal Newport from his latest blog post on Digital Minimalism:

Missing out is not negative. Many digital maximalists, who spend their days immersed in a dreary slog of apps and clicks, justify their behavior by listing all of the potential benefits they would miss if they began culling services from their life. I don’t buy this argument. There’s an infinite selection of activities in the world that might bring some value. If you insist on labeling every activity avoided as value lost, then no matter how frantically you fill your time, it’s unavoidable that the final tally of your daily experience will be infinitely negative. It’s more sensical to instead measure the value gained by the activities you do embrace and then attempt to maximize this positive value.

He then goes on to talk about new platforms that claim to solve problems.

Be wary of tools that solve a problem that didn’t exist before the tool. GPS helped solve a problem that existed for a long time before it came along (how do I get where I want to go?), so did Google (how do I find this piece of information I need?). Snapchat, by contrast, did not. Be wary of tools in this latter category as they tend to exist mainly to create addictive new behaviors that support ad sales.

I agree with where Cal is headed with this article. I'm starting to notice a tension between the virtual world and the real one. While the virtual world has its merits, I find that it's starting to require too much of my attention to justify its worth as a long term investment.

How to Create a Social Media Strategy for Your Church

It’s one thing to create social media, it’s another thing to create a strategy for your social media. Strategy is what keeps you from wasting time by forcing to you map out a plan. It requires to you to think about what you want to achieve with your church’s social media and how you can make it happen. Now you don’t have to be overwhelmed by the process of creating a social media strategy. Instead, if you follow the step by step process below, you can be well on your way to creating a social media strategy that will accomplish your goals and provide you with clarity when creating social media for your church.

Step 1: Create Social Media Goals

Strategies without goals are useless. You need to define your what you want your results to be in order to determine your strategy. However, when you're writing goals there are three things to remember.

Create SMART Goals

What are SMART goals? SMART goals are Specific, Measurable (And) Realistic and Time-driven. By writing goals that are SMART, you avoid being vague, having unclear expectations, dreaming too big and not giving yourself a deadline. Here’s an example of what I’m referring to:

Goal: Get more people to like us on Facebook.

SMART Goal: By the end of May, gain 40 likes on the church Facebook page.

See the difference between the first goal and the second one? While the first goal may be true, it lacks focus and a metric to determine whether or not you've met the goal.

However the second goal has a clear indication of what success will look like. If this you use this goal, you'll understand when the goal is accomplished and in what time frame it needs to be completed.

Align Your Goals with the Church's Goals

It's easy to create goals in a vacuum. However it's difficult to create the goals and have them aligned with your church's goals. Why? Well, obviously it takes planning, but it also requires you to think about how you can use social media to impact the church as a whole. Sometimes in our planning processes, we can get caught up in communicating what we deem the most important when we should be thinking about how our social media is lining up with our church’s goals.

One benefit of lining up your social media goal with your church’s, is that this can also make it easier for you to get buy-in from your senior leadership. If they see that social media is not some rogue operation, but rather one that is reinforcing where they want the church to go, then it may be easier to get more funding or get them involved in social media as well.

Make Sure Your Goals Solve a Problem

Don’t create a goal just to have one. Make sure that you goal is solving a problem that church is experiencing. If you create goals that are solution oriented, you’re ensuring that you’re goals are making the best of use of your time. You’re also forcing yourself to examine what the issues are for you and your church.

Step 2: Study Your Current Social Media Accounts

When your creating your church’s social media strategy you need to do an in-depth study of where you currently stand with your church's social media accounts. I’ve outlined before how to an year-end review and the same steps apply here. You need to the do the following:

  • Determine Your Key Performance Indicators (How do we know we’re doing it right?)

  • Determine Key Moments in Your Social Media (What were our successes?)

  • Determine What to Let Go (What’s not working?)

  • Determine What to Ram Up (What’s working and we should try to do more of?)

Step 3: Create Member Profiles

Once you have good understanding of your church's social media accounts, take some time to build member profiles. Profiles are essentailly are ways to categorize people to help you better target an audience. For example, if you look at your Facebook likes and see that an overwhelming majority of your likes come from the 55 or older crowd, then build a profile of what typical 55 year old person might look like (retired, grandkids, etc).

By building member profiles you're moving beyond identifying where your audience is at to identifying who your audience is. This will help you strategize what kind of content should go on which accounts. Here’s abbreviated version of how I would break down my church’s member profiles:

Twitter: Mid 30-40 year old professional men. These men are mostly married and love to retweet sermon quotes on Sunday mornings.

Facebook: Mid 40-50 year old females. These women are mostly married with children or grandchildren. They love to share choir video clips and blog posts from our pastor.

Instagram: Mid 20 year old females. This audience loves quote art and inspirational photos with scripture.

Step 4: Study Other Churches

When it comes to looking at ideas on how to build your strategy, there plenty of churches of other churches out there that you can model your church after. Take the time to follow other churches on social media and see what is working for them and what isn’t.

Now here’s a word of caution when studying other churches. First, make sure that you don’t get distraught over of another church has more resources than you do. This isn’t a numbers game. Secondly, make sure the church your studying has some of same the characteristics as yours so that their tactics will easily apply to your church.

Step 5: Plan Out Tactics

One mistake I see when churches plan out there social media strategy is that they mistake tactics for strategy. Tactics the ground level actions you’ll take meet your goals. A tactic could be posting on Instagram once a day with a quote from your pastor. Where a strategy is higher level planning, like wanting to become a part of your audiences daily digital habits.

So when you plan your tactics, think about things like how often you’ll post, where and when you’ll post. Have fun dreaming up new ideas and thinking of ways you want to experiment with your church’s social media.

When you’re ready to plan out your tactics, one of the essential tools you’ll want is a social media content calendar. This is the roadmap for your content. A social media content calendar allows you to plot where and when your content is going out. You can identify gaps, think thematically and make sure that content all has the same voice and tone.

Step 6: Measure, Evaluate, Realign, Repeat

Once you have your strategy outlined, set up a system by which you can collect data to track your progress. This can be something as simple an excel spreadsheet. You’ll also want to set a date in the future for when you’ll sit down and evaluate your results. I would do this every 3-4 months.

During the evaluation process, ask yourself if you're on track to hit your goals. If not, determine whether or not your goals were too ambitious or to easy. If they’re too ambitious, then set them lower. If they're to easy, raise them. If you’re goals are set correctly, but you’re not on track to hit them, you’ll want to realign your tactics and experiment some till you see the results you want.

One last thing you can do to help create you a social media strategy your church...