Facebook Reconsiders Plan to Group News With Political Advertisers

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Facebook Inc. doesn’t know how news organizations will fit into an initiative to provide transparency for political advertising on its social network.

The company came up with a policy that puts news publishers in the same category as political publishers for the purposes of its new ad-transparency efforts. Facebook told media organizations they would have to verify their identities and have any ads promoting stories about politics placed in a public database, just like political campaigns would.

Within hours of a Bloomberg News report on the initiative and criticism from news organizations, Facebook decided to rethink its plan. It no longer has a clear solution for transparency around ads that promote news stories about politics, according to a person familiar with the matter.

The confusion at Facebook, even after making a decision, underscores how difficult it will be for the company to clean up false information and manipulation on its social network ahead of elections. Facebook has been working on ways to boost more trustworthy news on its site, without judging the content itself. Transparency in media advertising would help combat a trend of hyper-partisan pages on Facebook that post information masquerading as news, meant to go viral in a way that furthers political agendas. But putting legitimate news sites in the same category, and in the category of political content, is likely to erode trust in factual reporting, a media industry group argued.

“We’re making changes that impact political and issue ads with new labels and a searchable archive,” Campbell Brown, Facebook’s head of news partnerships, said in a revised statement on Friday. “We recognize the news content about politics is different and we are working with publishers to develop the right approach.”

The social-media giant sent letters this week to members of the News Media Alliance, which include the New York Times and the Washington Post, outlining new rules that would take effect May 22. Under the guidelines, Facebook said it would disclose when news organizations pay to boost the exposure of political articles, and store the details in an archive that includes ads for politicians or political groups. The political articles promoted would include labels specifying “paid for by,” just like the political ads.

The notification prompted backlash from the News Media Alliance, which represents nearly 2,000 news organizations, arguing that their members should be left out of the database and the new rules on disclosure will ultimately elevate less-credible news sources on Facebook.

“Your plan to group quality publishers alongside political advocacy, which the ad archive will do, dangerously blurs the lines between real reporting and propaganda,” David Chavern, president of the News Media Alliance, said in a letter Friday addressed to Facebook Chief Executive Officer Mark Zuckerberg. “This treatment of quality news as political, even in the context of marketing, is deeply problematic.”

Critics have pilloried Facebook for letting Russian operatives spread misinformation during the 2016 presidential campaign. The company has announced changes to its advertising policies that it’s said would make it harder for rogue operatives to set up fake accounts and push divisive points of view. One of the requirements includes forcing advertisers touting social or political issues to verify their identity and location.

Another change entails creating a political ad archive, showing the total amounts spent, the number of impressions and demographic information including age, location and gender of who saw them.

 

“Preventing misinformation and interference in elections is one of our top priorities,” Campbell Brown, head of news partnerships at Facebook, said in an earlier statement Friday. “All ads on politics and issues will be in a searchable archive, including news content.” She later revised her statement, removing the reference to news content.

The issue of political ads on social media has caught the attention of Congress. Senators Mark Warner, a Virginia Democrat, and Amy Klobuchar, a Minnesota Democrat, introduced the Honest Ads Act, which would subject online political ads to similar disclosure rules that now govern advertising content in other media such as TV and radio. The measure has the support of Facebook and Twitter.

The Federal Election Commission is also considering new regulations that would require disclaimers identifying the sponsors of online, mobile and other forms of digital advertising, offering alternative rules. A public hearing on the proposals is scheduled for June.

"Bloomberg News"

Top 20 Social Media News Sites

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With the excess of information in the world, it can be hard to sift through what really matters. For you and your business, social media is one thing you should keep an eye on. Here are 20 sites that offer a variety of takes, opinions, and focuses for social media news.

 1. Social Media Today

For the PR, marketing, advertising and business professionals that need to have a thorough understanding of what is happening in social media. Topics frequently discussed: tools, platforms, people, and companies on the social media landscape.

2. Alltop

Alltop describes its services as a tool to answer the question “What’s happening?” With this media page, you can enjoy a filtered and useful list of social media news articles and blogs to avoid information overload.

3. Mashable

While not super business-oriented, Mashable is the go-to site for “how to” articles. Their social media page is no different. They can get you updated and trained on advances in social media in no time.

4. Social Times

Social Times is a good mix of “how to”, news, and opinion articles involving social media. There is also research provided on the page, giving a much more in-depth perspective than a typical online article.

5. Digital Trends

Digital Trends describes its mission as trying to help readers navigate an increasingly digital world. You can find trends and news for social media in a neatly designed platform. The site also offers technology reviews – which is becoming increasingly important as the line between tech and social media blurs.

6. Bloomberg

As you would guess from the provider, Bloomberg’s page on social media is very business-driven. You’ll see articles about IPO’s, shares, stocks, and growth. If you’re looking for pure business information, this is the place to come.

7. Open Forum

Open Forum compiles a list of articles and pieces about different topics and puts them in one place for your convenience. You can follow the page, which allows you to receive email updates whenever anything new comes up.

8. Forbes

Again, much like you would expect, the Forbes social media page is also very business-driven. Most of the articles found here are marketing and sales related. It’s also a good source to go to for updates on privacy concerns.

9. Entrepreneur

The Entrepreneur webpage on social media has a strong focus on consumer targeting. They also have fun interactive polls and opinion articles that are a little different than what you are used to seeing on business sites.

10. CNN

In typical CNN fashion, their social media articles are hard news pieces. They cover a lot of privacy issues and lawsuits that involve social media sites.

11. The New York Times

News about social media, including commentary and archival articles published in The New York Times. One very cool feature of this site is the “timeline” aspect: you can see a chronological order of the biggest news in social media over the last few months.

12. Huffington Post

The Huffington Post page for social media news is primarily composed of lists. The page is surprisingly humorous, without a strong focus on sales or business.

13. Scoop.it

Scoop.it is the place to go for social media infographics. There are a wide variety of topics on display for you to choose from. They also have a good inventory of articles that help businesses learn to leverage different social media sites.

14. Smart Brief

Smart Brief conveniently organizes the social media news by industry. If you’re interested in say, mobile app development, you can simply click and have specific news for what you’re looking for.

15. Buzzfeed

Buzzfeed is many young people’s go-to place for popular news. It can, however, be a good source for social media updates as well… if you don’t get side tracked by an article about cats on the way. Here you can find both opinion and informative articles on any number of relevant networking topics.

16. Tech News World

Focused on the tech side of social media, Tech News offers an interesting and unique take on social networking. You get less typical material and more in-depth coverage of changing technology and how it will impact social networking.

17. CMS Wire

CMS Wire is another site that follows more of a typical news article format. They have more of a focus on marketing, and some interesting takes on some businesses' social media campaigns.

18. Sprout Social

Sprout Social has more of a research report feel to its homepage. They have news such as social indexes and updated advice for those working in social media.

19. Social Media Portal

Social Media Portal compiles news articles about the top players in social media. One benefit of this site is that the articles are clearly labeled by their topics icon; if you’re looking for just Pinterest news, you don’t even have to read the titles of the other articles.

20. The Guardian

The Guardian is a great source for social media news worldwide. They don’t focus only on news from the USA. You’ll see articles from the UK, India, etc. that will give you a global perspective.

6 Digital Skills that will Future-Proof a Workforce

Once a niche skillset, digital skills are now a workplace essential.

Within Europe and across sectors, at least 80% of managers and professionals need basic digital abilities. In larger workplaces, as many as 50% are required to have specialist digital skills.

Digital technologies are now commonplace in daily life and becoming embedded into working culture. Having a workforce that knows how to use them efficiently is key to a company’s success.

But which digital skills will be essential in the coming years? Each year, new technologies are developed, many gaining media attention. With so many buzzwords to keep track of from VR to AI to cryptocurrency, how can companies know what’s prudent to invest time and money into?

1. Expert Data Analysis

In this era of big data, many companies are sitting on a mountain of untapped information about their customers, process and workforce.

As digital transformation advances, the data recorded will continue to increase. Knowing how to harness this data is crucial to understanding your business and its future. Employees who can extract, analyze and translate useful information from your company’s data set will be essential, and the skill will integrate into more and more roles within teams.

Done effectively, data analysis can give you essential business and customer insights. It can also be used to inform campaigns and content.

Currently, there are four main types of data analysis used by businesses.

  • Descriptive analytics - often combined with other analytics, this practice brings together raw data from multiple sources to give valuable insights into the past.
  • Diagnostic analytics - requires more detailed data to identify patterns and provide insights into specific problems.
  • Predictive analytics - uses the findings of descriptive and diagnostic analytics to detect tendencies, clusters and exceptions, and to predict future trends.
  • Prescriptive analytics - requires historical data plus external information, and uses machine learning, business rules and algorithms to prescribe what action to take.

The current trend, as highlighted by a recent BARC survey, is recognized by executives as the growing importance of predictive analysis and data mining. As sophisticated technologies and tools are further developed, the more important the role of the advanced analytics of predictive and prescriptive will be.

2. Advanced Social Selling

As the social media boom of the 2000s settles and matures, so have its users. This means that sales teams of the future will need to adapt too. According to today’s most successful social sellers, the trend is moving away from the cold call and the hard sell, towards value-based selling.

At the heart of value-based selling is trust. To create this, advanced social sellers need to equip themselves with content and conversation, so that they can build more meaningful relationships with their customers. 

A recent State of Sales Report by LinkedIn showed that 77% of buyers won’t engage with a seller without reading up about their company first. If you consider this with the fact that 80% of buyers reviewed 5 or more pieces of content before their purchase, it is clear that quality online content around your company and about your product will be essential for all future sales teams.

Good content can assist social sellers in starting conversations and building relationships. “Put relationships first,” advises Phil Gerbyshank to ambitious social sellers. 

It is crucial to make a connection with your audience and then maintain it by adding value in the way of sharing content. Social media is much more an opportunity to educate and become a resource for your potential customers, rather than to sell directly - that’s for further down the customer journey.

3. Mobile Expertise

Smartphones are now more common for online use than a desktop (51% vs 42%). And, with the digital native Generation Z set to make up 40% of all consumers by 2020, organizations will need to adjust their own expertise to survive in the coming years.

The rise of mobile means that businesses must adapt their strategy accordingly. This means adopting a mobile-first approach, in which comms, content and customer journey are optimized for mobile. 

Leverage mobile-optimized video communications throughout the sales process and add video-building abilities to your sales teams to better engage the next generation of consumers. This will prove essential to all communications through native apps, such as Snapchat and Instagram.

The predominance of apps also means that businesses will need to stay abreast of the trends to make sure that their app remains relevant - and more importantly - discoverable. Intelligent, AI-powered marketing platforms can translate the vast troves of daily created user data into actionable updates to how your app is marketed. 

The information is out there, future-proofing your workforce will simply be a matter of developing the right skills to be able to harness it effectively.

4. Multi-platform UX design

As more of your customer base spend time online, moving between different devices, your company’s digital presence will need to take centre stage.

The key to this is to ensure your app or website is easily navigable is at the heart of UX (user experience) design. And, with 79% of internet users admitting to searching for another site if they can’t easily use one they landed on, it’s essential to invest in this digital skill.

Importantly, websites and apps will need to be responsive to give users a consistent feel across different devices. Not doing so will create an impasse between brand and user, that will encourage consumers to look elsewhere.

Consider how to make design teams agiler. To speed up the process and to allow creativity to flow, divide up the work for different features. If individuals have more independence, they will have clear ownership of their section and are more likely to feel creatively satisfied. This agile framework will lead to more productive workers and more flexible design necessary to keep up with tomorrow’s digitization.

5. Network and information security

This skill, while on the surface seems the least glamorous, is one of the most important.

Cybersecurity is one of the biggest issues of today and will continue to be as digital transformation advances. With recent controversies about cyber security in high profile cases like Yahoo, Sage and Hilary Clinton's email, ensuring business data is kept secure has emerged as a top priority.

As security methods evolve and develop, so do the threats against it. And the more connected your workforce, the more the whole company is at risk from one employee’s oversight. Even something as simple as using social media at work can be a risk.

Having a workforce that understands the basics of online security – and the steps they can take to defend it – will keep your company, and its sensitive information, away from prying eyes and breach scandals.

6. Creative thinking

Arguably the most important digital skill for the future doesn’t relate to a specific device or software.

For 6 in 10 occupations, 30% of tasks are automatable. As technology rapidly evolves, previously revered breakthroughs are quickly forgotten, and specialized skillsets become obsolete.

Therefore the most important skill for any employee in the face of automation is creative thinking. To ensure the longevity of a workforce, they must be able to do what machines are unable to.

For example, VR and AI are fascinating developments, but may not yet be relevant for your company. It is important to invest in creative, versatile workers that are keen to learn and will be flexible through each technological advance.

As machines become more involved with daily tasks, the more we will need to have creative, versatile workers whose skills transcend what the machines can offer.

When it comes to digital transformation, it’s crucial to have a workforce that has a grasp of the complexity of the digital world, and the new stages of a customer journey. 

From making the most of big data to staying on top of how consumers are using technology are all essential skills for tomorrow’s workforce. Making sure they have the right expertise to adapt as the technology evolves will help to future-proof teams as time marches on.

State of Inbound 2017 Asia Pacific Survey Report is Here

 

The 2017 report by HubSpot will give you the data you need to benchmark your activities against 6,000+ respondents while also giving you insight to plan your future digital marketing and sales strategies. Here's one of the highlights:

This year we’re seeing two major shifts take place: Marketers are making the leap into visual content creation while salespeople are slowly shifting from the hard-seller stereotype to a more trusted advisor.

Learn more. Download the report now.