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On Facebook, we like what other people have already liked before us. Shutterstock
Marian-Andrei Rizoiu, University of Technology Sydney

This is the first article in a series looking at the attention economy and how online content gets in front of your eyeballs.


You may have read about – or already seen, depending on where you are – the latest tweak to Facebook’s interface: the disappearance of the likes counter.

Like Instagram (which it owns), Facebook is experimenting with hiding the number of likes that posts receive for users in some areas (Australia for Facebook, and Canada for Instagram).

In the new design, the number of likes is no longer shown. But with a simple click you can see who liked the post and even count them.

It seems like Facebook is going to a lot of trouble to hide a seemingly innocuous signal, especially when it is relatively easy to retrieve.

Facebook prototypes hiding like counts.

Facebook’s goal is reportedly to make people comfortable expressing themselves and to increase the quality of the content they share.

There are also claims about ameliorating user insecurity when posting, perceived liberty of expression, and circumventing the herd mentality.

But are there any scientific grounds for this change?

The MusicLab model

In 2006, US researchers Matthew Salganik, Peter Dodds and Duncan Watts set out to investigate the intriguing disconnect between quality and popularity observed in cultural markets.

They created the MusicLab experiments, in which users were presented with a choice of songs from unknown bands. Users would listen online and could choose to download songs they liked.

The users were divided into two groups: for one group, the songs were shown at random with no other information; for the other group, songs were ordered according to a social signal – the number of times each had already been downloaded – and this number was shown next to them.


Read more: Users (and their bias) are key to fighting fake news on Facebook – AI isn’t smart enough yet


A song’s number of downloads is a measure of its popularity, akin to the number of likes for Facebook posts.

The results were fascinating: when the number of downloads was shown, the song market would evolve to be highly unequal (with one song becoming vastly more popular than all the others) and unpredictable (the winning song would not be the same if the experiment were repeated).

Based on these results, Australian researchers proposed the first model (dubbed the MusicLab model) to explain how content becomes popular in cultural markets, why a few things get all the popularity and most get nothing, and (most important for us) why showing the number of downloads is so detrimental.

They theorised that the consumption of an online product (such as a song) is a two-step process: first the user clicks on it based on its appeal, then they download it based on its quality.

As it turns out, a song’s appeal is largely determined by its current popularity. If other people like something, we tend to think it’s worth taking a look at.

So how often a song will be downloaded in future depends on its current appeal, which in turn depends on its current number of downloads.

This leads to the well-known result that future popularity of a product or idea is highly dependent on its past popularity. This is also known as the “rich get richer” effect.

What does this have to do with Facebook likes?

The parallel between Facebook and the MusicLab experiment is straightforward: the songs correspond to posts, whereas downloads correspond to likes.

For a market of products such as songs, the MusicLab model implies that showing popularity means fewer cultural products of varying quality are consumed overall, and some high-quality products may go unnoticed.

But the effects are even more severe for a market of ideas, such as Facebook. The “rich get richer” effect compounds over time like interest on a mortgage. The total popularity of one idea can increase exponentially and quickly dominate the entire market.

As a result, the first idea on the market has more time to grow and has increased chances of dominating regardless of its quality (a strong first-mover advantage).


Read more: We made deceptive robots to see why fake news spreads, and found a weakness


This first-mover advantage partially explains why fake news items so often dominate their debunking, and why it is so hard to replace wrong and detrimental beliefs with correct or healthier alternatives that arrive later in the game.

Despite what is sometimes claimed, the “marketplace of ideas” is no guarantee that high-quality content will become popular.

Other lines of research suggest that while quality ideas do make it to the top, it is next to impossible to predict early which ones. In other words, quality appears disconnected from popularity.

Is there any way the game can be fixed?

This seems to paint a bleak picture of online society, in which misinformation, populist ideas, and unhealthy teen challenges can freely flow through online media and capture the public’s attention.

However, the other group in the MusicLab experiment – the group who were not shown a popularity indicator – can give us hope for a solution, or at least some improvement.

The researchers reported that hiding the number of downloads led to a much fairer and more predictable market, in which popularity is more evenly distributed among a greater number of competitors and more closely correlated to quality.

So it appears that Facebook’s decision to hide the number of likes on posts could be better for everyone.

In addition to limiting pressure on post creators and reducing their levels of anxiety and envy, it might also help to create a fairer information exchange environment.

And if posters spend less time on optimising post timing and other tricks for gaming the system, we might even notice an increase in content quality.The Conversation

Marian-Andrei Rizoiu, Lecturer in Computer Science, University of Technology Sydney

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

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Facebook has announced changes to its news feed flagged last year which will have the effect of prioritising posts from friends and video content over posts from media outlets and businesses.

For news outlets and pages this will change the likelihood of their posts appearing in your news feed.

Adam Mosseri, Facebook’s head of News Feed wrote in a post that Facebook was built to bring people closer together and build relationships

He wrote: “With this update, we will also prioritize posts that spark conversations and meaningful interactions between people. To do this, we will predict which posts you might want to interact with your friends about, and show these posts higher in feed. These are posts that inspire back-and-forth discussion in the comments and posts that you might want to share and react to – whether that’s a post from a friend seeking advice, a friend asking for recommendations for a trip, or a news article or video prompting lots of discussion. We will also prioritize posts from friends and family over public content…”

“Because space in News Feed is limited, showing more posts from friends and family and updates that spark conversation means we’ll show less public content, including videos and other posts from publishers or businesses.”

You can read Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg’s announcement here in full:



So, what types of Page posts will show higher in News Feed?

According to Mosseri page posts that generate conversation between people will show higher in News Feed. For example, live videos often lead to discussion among viewers on Facebook – in fact, live videos on average get six times as many interactions as regular videos. Many creators who post videos on Facebook prompt discussion among their followers, as do posts from celebrities. In Groups, people often interact around public content. Local businesses connect with their communities by posting relevant updates and creating events. And news can help start conversations on important issues.



If you still want to see all content from a favourite page or business, you will still be able to; you’ll need to change the appropriate preference setting to see posts from your favourite pages.
This change is a sure-fire reminder that Facebook is there to make money and not just to give a business or publisher a free platform to promote itself and drive traffic. Organic reach will continue to decline for them and necessitate a rethink on the sort of content they provide and the level of sponsorship they will need or future posts.

If you’re a brand and can generate engagement, discussion and sharing then you may still be able to generate organic reach. However, all brands will need to rethink their content marketing strategies and decide how important Facebook is to their marketing programs.

Facebook has introduced these sorts of changes before and now it’s up to users and advertisers to react and respond.

Hopefully one meaningful change to news feed will be the penalising of publishers who seem to thrive on clickbait-type articles and headlines.  We’re looking at you, Fox Sports!

Image copyright: grinvalds / 123RF Stock Photo
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Put simply, producing cornerstone content is about getting your web or blog page to rank highly by Google.

Of course, it is helpful to have informative content for the benefit of your customers and site visitors, but ultimately Google will need to be told which of your articles are the most important – especially where you write a number of posts about similar topics.

Cornerstone content then are those articles (or a static page on a topic) that you feel are the most informative and that you would like to rank highly in search engines. The key then is to create internal links to that page of content or article.  Internal links are an important ranking factor.

It’s possible to have more than one cornerstone page on a website. You may have one for each of several key topics.


cornerstone content

Cornerstone articles can be long, including everything relevant and important for your readers about the topic. Make sure it uses good SEO practice – keyword focused, headings, imagery etc. Smart internal linking can push this article up in the search results. It’s a good idea to update it regularly and expand on it when possible.

You should link all your other posts about a similar topic to that article. An internal linking structure will increase the chance of your content article ranking in Google.

If you’re using the WordPress platform, the Yoast SEO Premium plugin makes it easy for you to identify which are the cornerstone articles and to be prompted to link to them.

Blogging guru Brian Clark outlines the two core goals of cornerstone content succinctly as:

  • The first goal of cornerstone content is usefulness and relevancy to the visitor, no matter how they arrive.
  • The second goal is to make that content so compelling and comprehensive that people are willing – no, make that excited – to link to it.


cornerstone content

Benefits of creating cornerstone content

  • It provides a very informative source and value to readers
  • Google is responsive to these sort of articles and they rank well in search engines
  • Cornerstone content helps you boost your blog’s credibility
  • People will be more likely to share this content on social media
  • It can attract back-links from other authoritative sources
  • Ultimately direct a lot of traffic and hopefully new subscribers and customers.

The benefits of linking can be seen by Fairfax media in all their articles and newsletters where they are constantly linking back to their own stories. They are forming content clusters with their authoritative journalism and feature articles.




A content article that amazes us on our own blog with the constant traffic it receives is an article about the difference between publicity and public relations. It works because it provides answers on a topic, is informative, responds to a search query, and is shareable. And, as you can see, we will link back to it wherever possible as cornerstone content.
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If you’re in the tourism industry and looking to enhance or begin your social media and online presence, then there’s some key considerations to think through and some planning required. Have a look at what other successful businesses are doing and learn from their efforts. seeaustralia Think about what types of online media your audience is likely to use. Is it Snapchat, Facebook or Twitter? Or something else? And don’t forget about TripAdvisor. Many consumers rely on online reviews for their decision making. Peer influence is very important in the process. Over 50% of Facebook users say their friends’ photos have inspired their choice of holiday and shaped their travel plans. Here are five key considerations to shape your tourism social media efforts: 1. Be informative Your goal should be to become an authority on your region and its attractions. Avoid the temptation to simply plug your own business at every opportunity. You will win a loyal following if you’re able to provide a regular flow of useable information that provides advice and tips for visitors. Provide accurate updates on local happenings and interesting events, new tourism product, travel conditions and yes, even the weather. Suggest a list of key things to visit, great photo spots, provide maps and amazing photos.
If you employ an imaginative and informative content strategy it will help in SEO and have your business rank more highly on search results. If you give potential visitors value in terms of superior content, they are more likely to have a connection with your brand. 2. Be authentic Be real and believable. The effect of ‘gilding the lily’ can be a loss of confidence in your business by visitors and result in negative online reviews and an erosion of trust with your audience. Show what the experience is that visitors can truly expect – accommodation, activities, scenery, food and most importantly the character and characters around you. A rising tide floats all boats, so the more you can accurately enhance the profile of your region the better for you. There’s not a finite amount of success available. 3. Involve your audience Social media is very much a two-way street. Interact with and have a conversation with your online community. Ask questions, ask for feedback and invite them to contribute content. You’ll be amazed at how many gorgeous photos, stories and experiences can be shared from your own visitors.
 

Feeding time at Lovers Cove 🐠🐟💦 #fishfeeding #daydreamisland #lovewhitsundays #thisisqueensland 📷@dream.living

A photo posted by Daydream Island Resort And Spa (@daydreamislandresortandspa) on

They’ll give you honest feedback and recommendations. Thank them for their reviews and don’t ignore their communication – good, bad or otherwise. Consider what competitions, promotions or incentives you can run on your platforms, big or small. Encourage guests to tag your accounts on their posts on their own pages. 4. Employ a content marketing strategy A lot of great content doesn’t happen by accident. Much of it is planned and thought out. A simple but effective tool is to utilise a content marketing strategy and it can be as simple as using a calendar. This can be a spreadsheet, online doc, or paper diary.
  • What advice pieces can we create?
  • Consider the time of year e.g. Christmas, Easter or school holidays
  • List local events we can post about
  • Look at seasonal opportunities
  • Are we running any promotions for specific booking periods?
  • Look at a theme for a certain period – e.g. to coincide with Mothers’ Day, or a local food festival.
Once you start its pretty easy to brainstorm a whole list of topics and specific pieces that can form your content platform. You will also need to consider what medium it’s best for – your website, blog, newsletter, Facebook, Instagram, local or national media, or all of these. Don’t forget to include video. It’s one of the most powerful forms of delivery and all platforms are embracing it. Your videos don’t need to be long or elaborately produced productions. Once you’ve got a calendar settled it will help drive your activity and keep you focused and motivated. It needs to be flexible but with a bit of effort should help fuel your content creation. Here’s an example of what a calendar may look like: tourism Source: Webbedfeet.com.au 5. Post regularly across all channels Don’t allow your content or online presence to wither on the vine. Post regularly across all your social and online assets. It doesn’t need to be every day for each medium but you should feature regularly and make sure you are responding to messages and thanking your community for their involvement. They will like being appreciated. And, don’t forget to share… https://youtu.be/V3OJkky52c0  
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Manage your social media community before it begins to manage you. This is good advice if you’re building your social media presence and intend to use it as a useful marketing tool and a source of information for your audience including potential customers. A dedicated social media presence takes time and requires daily attention and some planning. Don’t feel you need a presence on all social media accounts, especially if your resources and time are limited (Do you really need that Pinterest account?), but narrow down the key ones to a manageable few and make a concerted effort on those. It’s better to do a few channels well than a lot poorly. Here’s some other key tips to help you save time and be more effective. Implement a content management plan A proactive social media presence requires a solid content marketing plan. Your audience will respond more positively if your content is well thought out and timely. It doesn’t need to be complicated. Maybe call it an editorial calendar and identify key dates, events, holidays or seasons. Work out a monthly plan and break it down into weeks. Is there a specific theme for the month? Is it a holiday or a summer related activity you wish to promote? Try and mix up your content so it’s not too repetitive but make sure it’s all relevant.  Indicate which platform it will be posted on and what external resources are required e.g. images, video etc. Identify your clear target audience for each post and keep them in mind when you create the content. social media Use a social media management platform There are various tools that help you manage multiple social media accounts and platforms. Some of these include Hootsuite, SproutSocial and TweetDeck. There are others but these are three popular suites that can integrate your Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn accounts (and others), enable posting to different accounts from one central dashboard, view numerous feeds and schedule posts in advance, which can be a lifesaver. These tools also have the added advantage of giving you metrics of all your accounts in one place like your reach and levels of engagement. SproutSocial also has a nifty service called Landscape for resizing an image beautifully for each social media platform. Practice social media listening Social listening is the art of listening in to conversations taking place and being willing to engage or join in the conversations. If you’re not monitoring your accounts then you will be missing out on important feedback and insights into your community and customers. It’s important to note that many customers may not say exactly what they feel directly to you or on your page; their criticism may be on an anonymous page or competitor profile. Put simply, you need to expand your efforts in just looking in the obvious places for feedback. The above companies also incorporate social media monitoring into their tools where you can monitor sentiment and search for key words or terms. Put simply, there’s no point in engaging in a social media marketing effort if you’re not going to monitor and interact with your audience. Image copyrights: rvlsoft / 123RF Stock Photo and 2nix / 123RF Stock Photo
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Another year is underway and nothing’s more certain than the changing social media landscape. It’s important to keep updated with relevant changes to your social media accounts and initiatives. Here’s a wrap of a few recent changes and trends which may impact your social media strategy: News Feed Update Now Responding To Surveys Facebook continues to tinker with its News Feed as it tries to improve the experience and show more relevant stories. This will of course assist with targeted marketing activities. Facebook news feed Facebook has traditionally used technology to hone the News Feed, tailoring the experience based on your likes, clicks, comments and shared posts. Facebook of course recognises that technology is not perfect in assessing your varied interests. It is now using qualitative research to have users rate their experience and assess posts in their feed. By surveying users and asking the question “how much did you want to see this story in your News Feed?”, Facebook is gaining a better understanding of what people are interested in seeing regardless of whether they interact with the post. According to Facebook people are having a better News Feed experience when the stories they see at the top are stories they are both likely to rate highly and and likely to engage with. Facebook is making an update to News Feed to incorporate this likelihood based on their research. These changes will have a varying degree of impact depending upon the composition of your audience and posting activity. Facebook says that in general this update should not impact reach or referral traffic meaningfully for the majority of Pages. Overall you should continue to post content that your audience finds meaningful and interesting. Facebook provides some good information on News Feed Best Practices and also Page post best practices. Review these regularly and track the effectiveness of your posts to give you greater insight into your most valued content and best posting habits. Facebook Sports Stadium Facebook is clamouring to get a slice of the real-time chatter which goes on during big events, particularly big sporting match-ups. This has long been the domain for Twitter where people can instantly share news, scores, opinions and generally vent about the last score. Twitter registered 28 million tweets for Superbowl 49 – up from 24 million the previous year and is favoured because of its immediacy. Facebook has responded by launching Facebook Sports Stadium aimed at their 650 million followers who like sports. It’s a place where you can see: -posts from your friends and their comments on the game -expert commentary and posts from those who cover the game and access to their Pages -live scores and stats -other game information like TV schedules. Facebook Sports Stadium Currently available for American football games it will soon cover other sports around the world. We’re bound to see it in Australia soon. It apparently struggled to keep up though with traffic during the recent Superbowl 50 between the Denver Broncos and Carolina Panthers and was a number of minutes behind with the scores. Facebook will persevere and it will be hard to bet against them making an impact during these live events. Soccer and the Olympics will surely be a huge worldwide draw card. Instagram Multiple Accounts InstagramOne eagerly awaited Instagram feature, which has been a long time coming, is the ability to run multiple accounts on Instagram. Up to now, you had to log off Instagram and log in under another account if you were, for example, using a private account and also managing a corporate account. Twitter and Facebook has had this capability for a while and finally it has come to iOS and Android in the latest Instagram version, 7.15. You now have the ability to add up to five accounts and you will be able to see which account you have active from several points in the app. This will be a huge time saver. Podcasts Podcasts are poised to become one of the fastest growing mediums for individuals and brands wishing to reach new audiences according to smk (social media knowledge). Podcasts have been around for some time and were first mentioned back in 2004. The rise of smartphones and tablets has certainly boosted their popularity. smk identifies a defining moment in the rise of Podcast being when ongoing true story Serial became the first to pass five million downloads in 2014. Podcasts are great to consume whilst you’re on the move with most listeners loving to learn about new things. Some of the most popular Podcasts in Australia currently include: Serial Stuff You Should Know Hamish and Andy TEDTalks Conversations with Richard Fidler podcast
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Despite many claims there are only a few real social media ninjas out there. While many businesses and individuals are doing it pretty well, there’s always room for improvement. However, there are some basic errors that too may accounts still make. Don’t get caught out making these obvious errors in your social media management. Poor profile We’ve all visited a page or profile and not been really sure if it’s the place we’re looking for or relevant at all to our needs. Make it obvious what you’re about and if you’re a business provide relevant contact information and a summary of exactly what you do or the products you are offering. If you don’t it could be costing you dollars. Make sure you fill out your profile information in full and provide information people want about you. Don’t leave them in the dark and create a bad first impression. They will go elsewhere quick smart. Buying followers Avoid the temptation to buy followers. While it may sound tempting to buy a thousand new fans for ten bucks the reality is that they are largely fake accounts and won’t engage with your content. Authentic engaging content is the holy grail and this will bring real fans who want to follow you for a reason. It’s the old tale of the hare and the tortoise as far as building a real following is concerned. Not monitoring conversations There’s no point building up a broad following if you’re not going to listen and take notice of what people are saying about you. You can gain valuable insight and feedback about your business from what people are saying about you – warts and all. If you’re not paying attention you will miss out. If you’re attentive and prepared to interact you will be seen as authentic, caring and open for business. There are many free and paid tools out there that can help you monitor and track conversations and sentiment. Meltwater, Hootsuite and Sprout Social are some of the better ones. Otherwise, just look and listen each and every day. Call to action (CTA) If you are wanting a visitor to do something; buy, refer, ask something, then you need to entice them to do just that and provide the way to do it. Make sure you provide the link and let the person know what they’re being lead to – ‘Click here to to take control of your financial future now.’ Having no CTA just leaves them hanging and ultimately frustrated and unfulfilled. You’ve done the hard work in getting them there; don’t forget to close the deal. Poor scheduling You want to make sure that your audience is seeing your content. You need to understand them and their online habits amongst other key demographic information. Give your posts the best possible chance of being seen. Don’t post when your audience is less likely to be there. It can be a bit hit and miss sometimes, but you can build up an understanding of the best times to post. Monitor your engagement and reach by day of the week and time and start looking for any patterns. Most good social media tools will feature a scheduling function to help schedule pre-prepared content to post at times you desire.
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