Tag: Facebook

Imgur’s Snacks is a Story-like collection of curated GIFs

Imgur began as a way for Redditors to share images quickly and easily, but has grown into a pretty robust site and accompanying mobile app. Last week, the company announced two new features that should help you find more time-wasting goodness: a tag-based content feed and a new Snacks feature, which echoes Snapchat (and Instagram, Facebook and YouTube) Stories.

Your new feed is accessible from its own tab on your Imgur home screen, right next to the "Most Viral" tab. You'll need to tap through a few tags of your own interests and your feed will fill up with images and GIFs from the people and tags you follow. You can up/down vote, comment and add favorites from the endless scroll of Imgur content. It's a nice way to just browse stuff you're interested in, instead of what's most viral on the service.

You can find Snacks in the search tab within the Imgur app. You'll see a bar at the top, just under the search field, with a curated list of GIFs that you can tap and just, well, watch. There doesn't appear to be a way to create your own list, unfortunately, which separates Snacks from the other social media story features.

Via: TechCrunch

Source: Imgur


I tried (and failed) to become an Instagram guru

The life of a rock star social media celebrity may not be as worthwhile as building hospitals in war zones, but it looks a hell of a lot more fun. Imagine all of those trips behind the red velvet rope to a world where beautiful people like and respect you as you effortlessly acquire wealth and influence. Alas, it's not as simple as shoving your face on Instagram and waiting for the cash to roll in -- if you want to quaff champagne with the Jenners and Swifts, you'll need to put in plenty of effort.

So is it possible for any old schmo, like myself, lacking any sort of talent but plenty of enthusiasm, armed with little more than a smartphone, a DSLR and Photoshop, to become Insta-famous? All I'd need is an instruction manual to get me on my way and the time and space to build up my 'celebrity' status. Thankfully, there's a whole firmament of social media gurus, influencers and shamans willing to share their secrets to accruing a monster following. In fact, if you were to sift through all of their words of wisdom, who knows, maybe you could write the definitive social media bible.

Now, I'm not the first schlubby journalist to attempt to break into the upper echelon of D-list web celebrity. Hell, there are plenty of better-prepared and better-looking folks who've tried this without much success. Take Bloomberg's Max Chafkin, who even employed the social agency Socialyte to aid his quest toward Instagram stardom. My ascent to the social media stratosphere won't be aided by anyone because I've been tasked with doing this the hard way.

The rules are pretty simple: Set up an Instagram account and use whatever (legitimate) means to push my following as high as possible. I figure that, equipped with the knowledge that all of those star gurus can offer, it'll take me less than a month before I'm packing 100,000 followers. Along the way, I'll scour every how-to, every online guide, and learn from the master himself, Vaynerchuk, and it'll be a piece of cake.

Rule Number One: Use Hashtags

A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step, and so does my quest to become a beloved Instagram influencer. I set up an entirely blank account -- serenecoops -- and wait for an army of fans to descend upon me.

It doesn't happen.

The first lesson I've learned is that building a following on Instagram can't be done passively, and it doesn't happen overnight. I'm pretty sore about this fact, since I'm very obviously an as-yet-unheralded genius and it's about damn time that I started getting some appreciation. Second, I should probably start posting some images to my feed to remind the internet that it should be hungry for what I give it. For my first submission, I share a picture of my face, explaining who I am, what I want to achieve, and get precisely zero likes for it. Bastards.

But I forgot to add any hashtags to my post, and as social media guru Garry Vaynerchuk would say, "Instagram's about hashtags." The advertising tycoon got his big break selling wine on social media and now has a reported worth somewhere north of $160 million. "Do not post anything on Instagram without your first comment being 15 to 20 hashtags," the businessman says in his widely circulated tutorials.

For my next post, I liberally spray hashtags into the comments in the hope of garnering some love. And, amazingly, it works -- with three people double tapping my shot of some books in quick succession. By the end of that day, six people (okay, five and myself) have liked the image, although no one felt motivated to click follow as a consequence.

A post shared by Dan Cooper (@serenecoops) on

Instagrammers also need to have some sort of thing, especially if you're not a famous person already. You need to build a narrative whereby you become known for one or two things that people can come to you for. I figured that while technology would be an easy win, I didn't want my now-imminent Instagram fame to impinge upon my job. Not only are there plenty of folks doing that brilliantly already, I also didn't want to spend even more time taking pictures of smart watches.

But what else am I qualified to talk about, if not technology? I've got a small hankering for fashion, even if my build means that my clothes are more about masking my own inadequacies. I like watches but wondered if there'd be enough of an audience there for me to talk about them incessantly. I like reading, do DIY and perform comedy on the weekends, but none of those seemed like good enough causes either. Not to mention that anything adult or too naughty would be flagged by Instagram's highly-prudish filtering.

Rule Number Two: Leverage Fear

One of the trends I keep coming back to on Vaynerchuk's own account are his "inspirational" memes, delivered on a near-daily basis. The entrepreneur seems to specialize in images that end with some variation on the phrase "You've already lost." He also uses pictures of himself that wouldn't look out of place in a Nike catalog, overlaid with quasi-meaningful phrases.

A post shared by Gary Vay-Ner-Chuk (@garyvee) on

A post shared by Gary Vay-Ner-Chuk (@garyvee) on

One thing that I've spotted, however, is that they all seem to induce in me some sort of existential panic as I'm constantly being told to work harder. I should be maximizing my time, stop listening, start doing shit. I should stop caring about other people, but also care too much about everything. I should stop worrying about my own feelings but also be advised that my own fear of failure is holding me back from greatness. After a five-minute stroll through his feed, I'm gripped by a number of mid-life crises all at once.

A post shared by Gary Vay-Ner-Chuk (@garyvee) on

A post shared by Gary Vay-Ner-Chuk (@garyvee) on

The key lesson is that fear is a great selling tool, and if used correctly, can get people to pay attention to your Instagram. The trick is to leverage that subtle anxiety that, I'm sure many of us have, we're frittering away our time here on Earth. Deep down, I know I'm already giving one hundred percent working in a full-time job, raising a child and trying to renovate a house by myself. That's not enough, however, and I should also be working on my own startup, reading a book a week, training for an ultramarathon and making enough money to buy my own sports team.

A post shared by Dan Cooper (@serenecoops) on

I set to work, finding pictures of myself doing things that I can overlay with useful phrases and lots of cool symbols. Another thing I learn, thanks to Fast Company, is that Instagram's most popular color is blue, so all of my images are tinted with the hue in Photoshop, and then I use the Clarendon filter to double up on the amount of blue on show in each image. And, actually, this combination of factors does prove effective, in its own weird way, often garnering me five or six likes within minutes of publishing.

A post shared by Dan Cooper (@serenecoops) on

Rule Number Three: Maintain your energy

I'm reminded of Jessica Vasquez, a social media celebrity going by the name JessiSmiles. She quit the much-loved six-second comedy network Vine after finding the pressure to produce content too much. "You can say that it's six seconds, but six seconds -- putting it out there in front of millions of people to tell you what they think about it is hard." I'm feeling the same, putting all of this effort to craft an image and then email it to my phone so that it can be uploaded via Instagram's mobile app. In fact, the user interface itself forces everything to be slower than it could otherwise be done, be it adding comments with hashtags and editing images. It helps sap my already-ailing momentum.

On that subject, posting a list of hashtags in your comments is a nightmare because there are several opaque rules that enables Instagram to block your postings. After preparing a list of hashtags that I could paste in on the tail of every image, it would frequently be blocked, much to my dismay. All of this ensured that I began missing days, feeling lethargic and generally wanting to avoid spending time on Instagram.

But my efforts were, at least, noticed by David*, a social media marketer who got in touch to offer me his skills. David is a "social media marketer," who promises to essentially take the legwork out of building a following by doing it all for you. "You've got a LONG way to go," wrote David in an Instagram direct message, "it will pretty much be impossible to get there without any marketing help."

David's job is to log into his client's Instagram accounts and perform "outward engagement," industry speak for liking, commenting and following targeted users. These users are identified through niche influencers, locations and other variables, that are then intended to juice your own attention. The more attention you give, and the more you receive, the more prominent you're expected to become. Depending on how much cash you hand over each month, you can also get Dave to slide into other people's DMs on your behalf.

And, to be fair, David does look like he's at least capable of starting me on the ladder, having accrued 14,500 followers on his own account. He shares his other clients' profiles with me that all have similar counts -- and he promises to get around 1,000 new followers each month. Prices start from $49 a month and run all the way up to $199 if you want everything, including a weekly analytics call.

Unfortunately, my budget remains zero, so I'll never know if David could work his magic on my account, but the recognition does at least reinvigorate me. If I'm already worthy of attention from social media promoters, perhaps this is all something worth persisting with.

* Names have been changed.

Rule Number Four: Engage

There's something missing from my Instagram game, and that's the fact that I don't use the service to interact with others. I'm one of these folks who gets itchy about sending a Facebook friend request to people, even if I've known them for years. Consequently, the idea of copying Vaynerchuk's exhortations to slide into everyone's DMs in the hope of becoming a better marketer gives me hives.

But, as hard as it is, I begin doing it, responding in kind to every comment that pops up on my images and trying to reach out to others. The process is slow, mostly because I generally treat online interactions as meaningful, rather than simply process of shooting platitudes at everyone in my digital vicinity. I offer some very generic comments on the things that people have added and, again, see my likes spike. It seems that the more effort you put in, the more successful your account can be.

A post shared by Dan Cooper (@serenecoops) on

depression for teenagers.

A post shared by Dan Cooper (@serenecoops) on

I've given up trying now, and I don't think that the hallowed world of earning $100,000 per promotional image is within my grasp. I won't be receiving a free outfit from my favorite tailors or get invited to New York's hottest new nightclub. After a month of work to try and cultivate my image into that of a hot young influencer taking the Instagram world by storm, I managed to accrue a total of 18 followers, although that number is now falling by the day.

  • Total Posts: 20
  • Total Follows: 18
  • Total Likes: 231
  • Number of Protein Powder retailers that followed me: 2
  • Digital Marketers that followed me: 6
  • Churches: 1

Facebook’s ‘ticker,’ aka creeper feed, is no more

Facebook has killed one of its oldest features, the "ticker," that let you see at a glance what your friends were doing or sharing. First launched in 2011, it used to appear to the right of your news feed (on the web app) showing likes, comments and other friend activities. As TechCrunch noticed, Facebook's help community had been posting about the ticker's disappearance, when a verified employee chimed in to see that "this feature is no longer available."

Facebook hasn't explained exactly why it chopped the ticker, though we've reached out for comment. The social network is generally ruthless with features that don't increase user engagement, and by extension, ad revenue.

It's hard to remember now, but Facebook's feeds used to display posts in chronological order, much like Twitter (mostly) still does. The algorithmic feed, launched in 2011 eliminated date-ordered posts, surfacing what it thinks is more relevant information, instead. Facebook-owned Instagram made the same change early last year.

The ticker was introduced along with the algorithmic feed, so that you could still monitor your friends' activities in real time. Though often called the "creeper" feed, it didn't really do anything that the news feed didn't before.

The algorithmic feed is ostensibly good for users, but like any algorithm, it can be gamed. That has become especially apparent with Facebook over the 18 months, when Russian operators bought ads in an attempt to influence US election results. They correctly surmised that discord increases engagement, and paid for posts that played social factions off against each other. As a result, at least 126 million Americans were exposed to articles that likely influenced election results to some degree.

Via: TechCrunch

Source: Facebook


Facebook adds a sound and music library you can use for video

Facebook has a bunch of new tools for video creators. First up, it has launched a community hub for 360 degree video (which isn't live for everyone just yet) that gathers educational bits like how to use 360 degree cameras, how to edit said videos and a primer on spatial audio. Speaking of editing, the social network has also launched 360 Director, a page with tools for adding annotation, setting zoom level, and the ability to save a video as a draft, among others. Facebook will also loan out the pricey cameras, starting with the GoPro Fusion and ZCam S1 at launch.

Not into 360 video? Well, Zuckerberg and Co. have something for you too. Facebook Sound Collection is a gaggle of songs and sound effects you can use with your authored videos, 360-degree ones included. Meaning, you can use these without fear that your masterpiece will get muted because of a copyright violation. Will that stop people from uploading video with licensed music? Probably not. Facebook's ambitions for video are pretty transparent at this point, but it's good to see that the company is willing to invest in its users in addition to its original programming aspirations.

Via: TechCrunch

Source: Facebook (1), (2), (3)


Facebook reveals how it handles harassment inside US offices

Facebook has been publicly searching for a solution to harassment, hate speech and bullying on the site for years -- and at the same time, less publicly, the company has been honing its internal approach to these subjects. Today, Facebook published its US harassment policy, in full, in an attempt to "be as transparent as possible, share best practices, and learn from one another -- recognizing that policies will evolve as we gain experience," according to COO Sheryl Sandberg and VP of People Lori Goler.

Executives decided to publish the policy now because there's a broader conversation happening in Silicon Valley, Hollywood and across the nation about the prevalence of sexual harassment in the workplace, Goler told TechCrunch.

"Lots of really brave women have raised their hands recently to take a stand to begin the process of changing culture and raising awareness," she said. "I think this a moment where, together, companies can create lasting change. It seems like a good time to foster the conversation."

Facebook's policies note that it doesn't restrict the definition of harassment by legal terms: The company may find an employee violates its rules even if he or she isn't engaging in unlawful harassment. "We consider whether a reasonable person could conclude that the conduct created an intimidating, hostile, degrading, or demeaning environment," the policy reads.

Examples of harassment, according to Facebook, include making derogatory or insensitive jokes, using slurs or epithets, leering or making inappropriate gestures, initiating unwelcome sexual advances and intentionally excluding someone from normal workplace conversations. The policy also makes it clear that rationalizations like "I was joking" or "I didn't mean it that way" are not adequate defenses against claims of harassment, nor is being under the influence of alcohol.

Facebook looks like a lot of tech companies in the Bay Area: It's mostly white and male. No employees have come forward with stories of rampant harassment at the company, though in May The Wall Street Journal reported female-authored code at Facebook was rejected more often than men's by 35 percent.

Via: TechCrunch

Source: Facebook


Nobody knows if Snapchat shows are actually successful

Snapchat hasn't been coy about its obsession with making original video content. Snap Inc., its parent company, sees TV-like programming as the holy grail and key to its long-term success. The quick, raw, disappearing videos that made Snapchat popular with teens are no longer enough to keep users locked in. Especially as Instagram has started stealing its most popular features, like Stories. Snapchat won't admit it, but Facebook may have inadvertently driven its push into original programming. Conquering that world won't be easy, and right now there are more questions than answers about whether Snapchat shows are working and how viable they are.

Over the past few months, Snapchat has lines up a slew of TV networks to create exclusive content for its Shows platform, such as A+E Networks, Discovery, ESPN, NBCUniversal and Turner (owner of CNN, TBS and TNT). According to The Wall Street Journal, Snapchat is also in talks with CBS and Fox, two of the biggest players in the TV industry. It's an ambitious effort, and Snapchat appears confident that it has the perfect formula for viable mobile-first, short-form video programming.

SNAP-IPO/

NBCUniversal, which invested $500 million as part of Snap's IPO in May, was one of the first networks to put the potential of Snapchat Shows on display. The company, like many other traditional media outlets, craves the young demographic that live on Snapchat. Last July, NBCUniversal launched Stay Tuned, a twice-daily news show created from the ground up with Snapchat users in mind. The show features two- to five-minute episodes shot in portrait mode, the ideal format for watching on-the-go on a smartphone. It's complemented by bright, colorful imagery and large text overlays that are displayed as the host discusses the news of the day.

So far, NBCUniversal's bet seems to be paying off, with the network claiming that the show has garnered more than 29 million viewers since its debut. That number, however, needs to be taken with a grain of salt. Snapchat does not disclose valuable metrics like user watch time and series retention stats, so it's hard to know what exactly qualifies as a "viewer." The company also doesn't disclose monthly active users, which is considered a key metric in determining user growth.

A spokesperson for Snapchat did not provide specific viewership numbers, but did say that Stay Tuned has over 2.5 million subscribers. That's rather small when you consider that Snapchat has 173 million daily active users. Snapchat told Engadget that networks find its platform appealing because they can connect with audiences different than those who watch traditional TV. According to Snap, more than 60 percent of the people who watch Stay Tuned are under 25 years old. And it's no secret that "millennials" are a highly coveted demographic, not just by media companies but fashion and tech brands, as well.

Stay Tuned on Snapchat.

ESPN, which is owned by Disney, is another network that recently launched a show on Snapchat. Last month, it announced a mobile-focused version of its flagship TV news program, SportsCenter, exclusively for Snapchat. It features many of the same traits seen on Stay Tuned: vertical scenes, large text overlays and GIFs. You'll also notice young hosts with upbeat personalities and casual outfits. ESPN and NBCUniversal are betting that they have a better chance connecting with Snapchat users than, say, 40- or 50-year-old anchors in suits.

An ESPN representative declined to share viewer stats for SportsCenter on Snapchat, citing Snap's reservation about releasing usage data to external parties. The spokesperson said that numbers for the show are "very promising" since it launched last month, but noted that it's early and there's not enough data to quantify accurate regular behavior.

We believe that mobile is fundamentally a new medium. It's not another screen to repurpose things, it's a place where you actually have to create especially for it.

Sean Mills, Snapchat's head of original content

Viewership numbers for Shows are vague at best and often non-existent. But that hasn't stopped Snap from launching 30 series with over 500 episodes in about a year. It's no easy feat to create that amount of content in such a short time, and it's a sign that networks including CNN, E! Entertainment (owned by NBCUniversal) and ESPN have enough faith in the platform to invest significant resources.

That said, it's not as if the networks don't make cash. On Snapchat's version of SportsCenter, for example, there are video advertisements for Dunkin Donuts, Express and the NFL, which a viewer can interact with by swiping up on a card if they want to shop or learn more about a product. Each show has ads like these and there's a revenue sharing agreement between them and Snap, though it's unclear just how much money these generate.

A January report from research firm Digital Content Next claimed that Snapchat "holds little to no short-term financial interest" for publishers. Mashable, meanwhile, reported that ad money for "top partners" has reached "seven and eight figures annually." Back in September, NBCUniversal CEO Steve Burke told The Information that The Rundown, a pop culture show on Snapchat from E! Entertainment, was making "over a million [dollars]" in revenue from the app.

Not surprisingly, Snapchat isn't the only one trying to make social TV a hit. Facebook introduced its own video platform, Watch, in August, where it streams anything from original shows created by independent artists to Major League Baseball games. Per video analytics firm Delmondo, though, Facebook Watch videos are only being viewed an average of 23 seconds at time -- so the company needs to figure out a way to keep people's attention longer than that.

To make matters worse, unlike Snapchat, Facebook doesn't allow ads on their shows, which people such as Burke see that as a deal breaker. "They have no respect for professionally produced content, or at least they're not showing they do," he said to The Information. "Just seems wrong to me and unsustainable."

Snapchat would like to keep the networks happy, but it needs to focus on keeping viewers' attention first and foremost. The key to that, according to Snap's Head of Original Content, Sean Mills, is to make shows that are relatable and to treat them differently than traditional TV. "We believe that mobile is fundamentally a new medium," he said. "It's not another screen to repurpose things, it's a place where you actually have to create especially for it." Mills pointed to ESPN reimagining SportsCenter, which has been around since 1979, for the Snapchat generation as the perfect example of this.

Whether it's working on new shows like Stay Tuned or existing franchises such as SportsCenter, Mills said Snapchat doesn't only have "one playbook that we're just going to keep running." He added that he believes Snapchat's current strategy is setting it up for a bright future. But that future could be clearer if the company was more transparent about how many people are actually watching its shows, and if they keep coming back to them.

"I think we're onto something," he said. "The numbers, in terms of the size of the audience, the loyalty and engagement sort of backs that up." Of course, what numbers Mills is referring to are a complete mystery. You'll have to take the company's word that it's on the right path, and we won't know for sure until these shows start getting cancelled. Or not.


Facebook Live can now broadcast Messenger games

Facebook is celebrating the first year of games on Messenger by introducing new titles and a few new features, starting with the ability to livestream them to friends. If you want to show your friends list how good you are with Everwing -- or how much you suck at it -- all you need to do is tap that new camera icon in the upper right corner of the game screen to stream on Facebook Live. You'll then be able to choose which audience you want to share it with before you post it like you would any other Live video. This particular feature is will be available starting today, but Facebook has another offering in store for 2018.

Early next year, you can play games with friends from within a video chat in real time, allowing you see each other's reactions and have a deeper level of connection even if you're not physically in one location. By the looks of things, this one will roll out title per title, since the first one slated to get it is none other than Words with Friends. It could certainly give old players who think it's lost its luster the incentive to pick it up again... and make faces at opponents to distract them from conjuring up that winning word.

In addition, Facebook is also launching new games for Messenger next year, including Angry Birds. A new version of the physics game with unique features and modes created specifically for the chat app will launch in early 2018, followed by a few more titles like arcade-style adventure Sonic Jump by SEGA.


The best gifts for the PC gamer in your life

Of the more than two dozen sections in our massive holiday gift guide, the PC gaming is one of the largest. That's because there are so many directions you can go in here: You can splurge on a laptop (we recommend three here) or pick up any number of accessories like headphones, a mouse, keyboard, mic or webcam. Or, you know, you can pick up some actual games. Find all that in our guide at the link below, and while you're there, check out the 100-plus other items in there.

Source: Engadget Holiday Gift Guide 2017


Instagram experiments with a standalone messaging app

It happened to Facebook, and now it's happening to Instagram. Today, the Zuckerberg empire is launching a standalone messaging app for Instagram called Direct. As The Verge reports, it's technically a test and will only be available in six markets — Chile, Israel, Italy, Portugal, Turkey and Uruguay. Like Messenger, the Direct app effectively cuts the Instagram experience in half; your Inbox lives in Direct, while the regular feed remains in the Instagram app. If you want to keep tabs on both, you'll have to shuffle back and forth. It sounds like both apps will have a built-in camera, however.

The idea, of course, is to get more people using Instagram's private messaging features. Direct first launched in 2013 as a way to selectively share photos and videos with friends. It was perfectly functional, but felt out of place alongside Instagram's traditional feed. The rise of Snapchat, of course, gave birth to Instagram Stories, which has expanded Direct's utility tremendously. If you comment on a friend's Story, for instance, it'll go straight to their inbox, rather than a public comment thread. You can, of course, still send a regular photo or text message privately, but Stories have given more people a reason to start a conversation through the app.

When Facebook broke off Messenger into a separate app, people were angry. These days, however, it's an accepted part of the Facebook ecosystem — Messenger sits near the top of the app charts on both iOS and Android. The move has also allowed Facebook to add increasingly complex features to Messenger, such as games and chatbots. If I was a betting man, I would guess that Instagram wants to do the same with Direct, adding Story-focused features to better compete with Snapchat (or at least, slow down any interest in its recent redesign). But do people want that? Instagram's simplicity, after all, is part of the reason why it's so popular.

Via: The Verge


Facebook’s Year in Review confirms 2017 was terrible

Yesterday, Facebook unveiled its annual Year in Review, which highlights the biggest moments of 2017. And, unsurprisingly, most of them are pretty depressing, confirming what we all already knew: The year 2017 was pretty terrible.

Facebook tries to spin it as "highlighting the top ways people came together on Facebook to support one another," but the list of events makes it clear that the year was just one terrible thing after another. The release mentions the violence in Las Vegas, the Mexico earthquake (which drove the highest number of interactions with Facebook's Crisis Response feature), the Manchester terror attack (the benefit concert was the most viewed live broadcast and video on Facebook) and Hurricane Harvey (the biggest fundraising for one crisis).

The Year in Review also highlights women's issues with both the Women's March on DC and International Women's Day, which was the top moment discussed in 2017. Finally, the social network highlights the Super Bowl and the total solar eclipse (which I maintain is a big deal) as big events of the year.

If you're interested in your year in review, you can access your video on Facebook. Starting today, visit facebook.com/yearinreview for your personalized version of 2017 (though, at the time of this writing, the feature isn't live.)