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.

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

The Real Reason Twitter Is Failing To Grow

Fascinating read from Exponents:

And it is here, in satiating advertisers’ unending thirst for demonstrable returns, that Twitter would always be at a fundamental disadvantage to Facebook and Google.

Because even if Twitter managed to solve its user growth problems and find its way to a billion users, Facebook would still have a massive edge in targeting ads, because Facebook’s product is inherently more conducive to gathering the kind of data that makes precision ad targeting possible at scale.

And in online advertising, all the rest your base are belong to Google…because when it comes to reaching people who are ready to buy something right now, nothing beats search. And if you want to advertise to your desired audience nearly everywhere on the internet that isn’t Facebook, nothing beats Google’s Display Network.

I did a podcast last week with Tom Pounder about this very subject. In the long term, I hold very pessimistic view of Twitter’s future.

Trust me, I want Twitter to succeed. However, if the marketing dollars aren’t there and they make it difficult to build on top of their platform, then I just don’t see a way that they can succeed.

via The Pulse of The Planet, Flatlined: Why Twitter’s Is Failing to Grow

How to Leave a Mark on People

David Brooks, writing for The New York Times:

What makes an institution thick? If you were setting out consciously to create a thick institution, what features would it include?

A thick institution is not one that people use instrumentally, to get a degree or to earn a salary. A thick institution becomes part of a person’s identity and engages the whole person: head, hands, heart and soul. So thick institutions have a physical location, often cramped, where members meet face to face on a regular basis, like a dinner table or a packed gym or assembly hall.
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Such institutions have a set of collective rituals — fasting or reciting or standing in formation. They have shared tasks, which often involve members closely watching one another, the way hockey teammates have to observe everybody else on the ice…

Churches should be thick institutions. They should force you to rub shoulders with the other believers and look each other in the eye. These are the things that an online church or campus can’t do.

Yes, the church is not a physical building, but there’s something about physically being around people that at online church can’t replicate.

via How to Leave a Mark on People – The New York Times

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.

via Instant recall – The Verge

a16z Podcast: Brains, Bodies, Minds … and Techno-Religions

One of my favorite episodes of this podcast. Yuval Harari’s work is on my reading list for 2017 and he comes across as someone who’s thought a lot about the future and what it will look like.

Check it out right here.

Are Teenagers Replacing Drugs With Smartphones?

Matt Richtel writing for The New York Times:

Amid an opioid epidemic, the rise of deadly synthetic drugs and the widening legalization of marijuana, a curious bright spot has emerged in the youth drug culture: American teenagers are growing less likely to try or regularly use drugs, including alcohol.

With minor fits and starts, the trend has been building for a decade, with no clear understanding as to why. Some experts theorize that falling cigarette-smoking rates are cutting into a key gateway to drugs, or that antidrug education campaigns, long a largely failed enterprise, have finally taken hold.

But researchers are starting to ponder an intriguing question: Are teenagers using drugs less in part because they are constantly stimulated and entertained by their computers and phones?

I think it’s an interesting concept. However, I would argue that the lack of drug use could be for a variety of reasons. Technology in this case is an easy culprit, the same way video games are for violence.

I would also love to see if there is correlating data to see there’s been a drop off in athletics as well. In other words, are teenagers dropping out of real life social activities (good or bad) for online activities?

via Are Teenagers Replacing Drugs With Smartphones? – The New York Times

Will Snapchat Be as Fleeting as Its Photos?

From Julia Skylar in the MIT Technology Review:

With Instagram Stories, pictures and videos come out much clearer and sharper, and more generally, it’s simply easier to find people on Instagram than on Snapchat. You don’t need to know a specific username; you can very easily search for people and companies to follow—and receive stories from—just by typing in their actual name.

But whether more millennials flee Snapchat for Instagram might not even matter that much, because both platforms may face an even bigger issue: what if it turns out that disappearing photos and videos are simply another digital fad?

Interesting to pose the idea that disappearing photos and videos as a fad. I just had a conversation with a group of young adults who said that the disappearing aspect of photos and videos were annoying.

I’ve never been a fan of disappearing content, I think it promotes carelessness as an art form versus taking the time to curate your work.

via Will Snapchat Be as Fleeting as Its Photos? – MIT Technology Review