Facebook’s new look
With the conclusion of F8, Facebook users have a virtual world full of new enhancements at their fingertips. As exciting as that is, some would be perfectly content with a little more information about what’s currently happening—or not.
Over the course of the last three months, Facebook reach among established publishers has been declining at alarming levels, and no one understands quite why. Guessing the anomalies behind the news feed algorithm changes has been grist for speculation for many years, with industry insiders occasionally able to make the right predictions.
What’s goin’ on?
But over the course of this spring? No one has the answers. Kurt Gessler, deputy director for digital news at the Chicago Tribune, tweeted that since the beginning of the year, they’ve grown their followers, yet seen a precipitous drop in post reach. His tweet prompted multitudes of other publishers to note the same thing, in publishers as diverse as The Boston Globe to Religion News Service.
Matt Karolian, the director of audience engagement at The Boston Globe, speaking to Digiday, noted that “last month was probably the worst we’ve had in reach in about a year. The fact everyone else is seeing it is a little bit troubling.”
In the absence of facts, speculation runs rampant.
Some thought originally that the collapse was limited to Chicago, until response came in from other publishers across the nation. Others have posited that Facebook is expressing a desire for more embedded video over text postings, with sites that utilize video posts seeing a boost in post reach. Joe Speiser, the co-founder of LittleThings, said to Digiday that, “Facebook’s made very clear video is a priority. You can go through the feed yourself. Video is everywhere.” The investment has paid off for Speiser, with LittleThings seeing its second highest traffic in March of this year, after they moved to primarily video posts.
Others have speculated that organic reach is dying in an effort for Facebook to drive more spending from publishers.
Wallaroo Media CEO Brandon Doyle told Digiday that for the nearly 20 publishers he follows that organic reach has declined for each.
Access is still paramount
Whichever of these is the real reason for the decline—if any of them are—it’s important to think about the increasingly larger segment of the world populace that gets its news primarily from Facebook. With the recent emphasis on “fake news,” or perhaps, more gently, opinions in the guide of facts, it’s vital that quality news sources have access to inform the populace.
Communication plans should include social media to be sure, but for publishers, who have seen the traditional promotion and publication of their work change drastically over the past 15 years, social media is a source of lifeblood, connecting them and their audiences. To shy away from a social media approach—especially one as penetrating as Facebook–for them puts them not only at a competitive disadvantage with their competitors, but also runs the risk of regulating them to the bin of inattention.
“In my mind, we’re kind of at the mercy of the algorithm,” Aysha Khan, the social media editor at Religion News Service said to Digiday.
“But there’s a lot of stories that are getting underwhelming responses that readers can’t even see. It is this constant thing, trying to figure out how to incorporate it into your workflow. At one point they were pushing images, and then they were pushing video, and live video. I don’t think it’ll ever stop.”
Google Analytics will now filter out bot traffic
(BUSINESS NEWS) Bender won’t be happy that Google Analytics will now automatically remove bot traffic from your results, but it’ll help your business.
In the competitive, busy world of online content, Google Analytics can help businesses and online publications deliver what their audience and consumers want. Now Google is finally taking the step of filtering out bot traffic in your Google Analytics reporting. This is excellent news!
In the world of websites, online news sites, blogs, and social media, bots are the bane of our existence. In their finest form, they are the electronic equivalent of junk mail. At their worst, they can carry malicious malware and viruses to your site and computer. They can even flood the internet with unfounded rumors that can have an impact on people’s opinions–stirring the political pot or lending misleading numbers to drive unfounded rumors, such as wearing a mask is dangerous. No it’s not! Chalk that nonsense up to bots and crackpots.
For businesses that rely on Google Analytics to determine what content is not only reaching but also resonating with potential customers, filtering out the bot traffic is crucial to determining the best course of action. Bots skew the data and therefore, end up costing businesses money.
Bots set up for malicious purposes crawl the internet looking for certain information or user behaviors. Bad bots can steal copyrighted content and give it to a competitor. Having identical copies on two sites hurts your site and can dink your SEO ranking. However, good bots can seek out duplicate content and other copyright infringements, so the original content creator can report them.
However, it is important for companies and content creators to know if their content is actually reaching real live humans. To this end, Google will start filtering out bot traffic automatically. The Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) actually provides an International Spiders and Bots list, through which Google can more easily identify bots. They use the list and their own internal research to seek out bots in action, crawling through the internet and confusing things.
Google says the bot traffic will be automatically filtered out of the Google Analytics results–users don’t have the choice. Some may argue there is a good reason to see all of the data, including bots. Many businesses and online publications, though, will be relieved to have a much clearer vision of what content genuinely appeals to humans, to readers and potential customers. It is a welcomed advancement.
Opportunity Zones: A chance to do good
(BUSINESS MARKETING) Opportunity zones offer a chance to breathe new life into economically-distressed communities.
Opportunity Zones are a beautiful mechanism for growing communities that are struggling, but some critics have put this process in a negative light. The following is an expert’s perspective on just this topic.
Jim White, PhD is Chairman and CEO of Post Harvest Technologies, Inc. and Growers Ice Company, Inc., Founder and CEO of PHT Opportunity Fund LP, and Founder and President of JL White International, LLC. His new book is a heartfelt rallying cry for investors: Opportunity Investing: How to Revitalize Urban and Rural Communities with Opportunity Funds, launched March 31, 2020.
Dr. White holds a B.S. in civil engineering, an MBA, and a doctorate in psychology and organizational behavior. He acquires struggling businesses to revive and develop them into profitable enterprises using his business turnaround strategy.
In his own words below:
BY JIM WHITE, PHD
Every investment vehicle has a twist some folks don’t like. Real estate, stock options, offshore tax havens, and even charitable gifting can be criticized for certain loopholes.
Likewise, some detractors have pointed to opportunity zones, a newer investment vehicle unveiled in the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act passed by Congress in December 2017. This bold, bipartisan plan allows for private investment capital to be channeled into some of the most distressed communities in the nation, serving the struggling residents and the investors alike.
Personally, I believe it is one of the noblest initiatives to emerge from Washington in years.
I grew up in a sharecropper cabin in what would have been an opportunity zone in Salem, South Carolina. What would an influx of investment dollars have meant to my low-income community? More and better-paying jobs to offset unemployment. People relocating to my town for those jobs, reversing population decline and increasing real estate values. New life breathed into local businesses. The increased tax revenues could have helped improve failing infrastructure. Social challenges, like crime and drug use, could have decreased. Better resources for my family and our neighbors, such as health care and education, would have emerged.
Today, there are nearly 8,800 distressed communities dotting the country that have been identified as Qualified Opportunity Zones (QOZs). These neighborhoods were designated from census tracks, treasury, and state leaders as communities that would benefit from an influx of investment dollars directed through Qualified Opportunity Funds (QOFs) to reinvigorate businesses, rebuild infrastructure and bolster residents.
As our economy continues to falter, more and more businesses file Chapter 11 and unemployment soars under COVID-19, I believe we are heading toward a painful expansion in designated opportunity zones. Even with the latest round of CARES stimulus money many people will have no way to rebound from this crisis.
One of the unexpected consequences of the coronavirus quarantine is that many businesses are discovering that, in reality, they can succeed through working remotely. This success is a double edged sword, meaning that if a business can thrive with employees working offsite then commercial real estate will suffer. And when companies no longer require brick-and-mortar locations, a local domino effect ensues; ancillary businesses, from cafés to gyms to print shops in and around a commercial office environment will subsequently close. The ripples will be felt through many other industries, including construction, transportation, energy, and retail.
Qualified Opportunity Zones and Qualified Opportunity Funds are instruments that can help stop a downward spiral. When a sponsor is able to present a project that meets the objectives of the QOZ initiative, both the QOZ and the investors benefit. That’s a win!
And, it’s not only urban centers that benefit from investment dollars. Forty percent of opportunity zones are rural. Even with often plentiful food, water, energy and other natural resources, deep poverty exists, and too many of America’s 60 million rural residents lack access to education and healthcare. A declining population often goes hand in hand with failing infrastructure as tax money for repairs dwindles. Many households lack broadband, something the vast majority of Americans take for granted.
Despite the challenges, rural residents are often surprisingly resilient and resourceful. According to The Hill (“Rural America has opportunity zones too”), rural residents create self-employment opportunities at a slightly higher rate than the national average. Their challenge is to connect with investors and access funding, more of which is directed to small business investment on the coasts.
In fact, many entrepreneurs and small business owners don’t know about Qualified Opportunity Funds. If a business is located in an opportunity zone it is eligible for direct funding by reaching out to the QOFs with a specific request for funding.
More than any investment plan that’s come before, I believe opportunity zones have the greatest capacity for positive social and economic impact. Spread out over many communities, these investments can help our nation flourish as a whole.
Gloves that translate sign language in real time
(BUSINESS MARKETING) A new wearable tech translates American Sign Language into audible English in real time.
Advancements in technology never cease to amaze. The same is true right this moment as a new technology has been released that helps translate American Sign Language (ASL) signs into spoken English in real time.
This technology comes in the form of a hand glove – similar looking on the front side to what one would wear in the winter, but much more advanced when in view of the palm. The palm side of the glove contains sensors on the wearer to identify each word, phrase, or letter that they form via ASL, and is then translated into audible English via an app that coincides with the glove.
This is all done in real time and allows for instant communication without the need for a human translator. The signals are translated at a rate of one word per second.
The project was developed by scientists at UCLA. “Our hope is that this opens up an easy way for people who use sign language to communicate directly with non-signers without needing someone else to translate for them,” said lead researcher Jun Chen.
The hope is to make communication easier for those who rely on ASL, and to help those unfamiliar with ASL adapt to the signs. It is thought that between 250,000 and 500,000 people in the United States use ASL. As of now, the glove does not translate British Sign Language – the other form a sign language that utilizes English.
According to CNN, the researchers also added adhesive sensors to the faces of people used to test the device — between their eyebrows and on one side of their mouths — to capture facial expressions that are a part of American Sign Language. However, this facet of the technology is not loved by all.
“The tech is redundant because deaf signers already make extensive use of text-to-speech or text translation software on their phones, or simply write with pen and paper, or even gesture clearly,” said Gabrielle Hodge, a deaf post-doctoral researcher from the Deafness Cognition and Language Research Centre (DCAL) at University College London. “There is nothing wrong with these forms of communication.”
What are your thoughts on this advancement? Comment below!
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