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Facebook is going to break things... Again.

Geekout Newsletter
Issue #41 • View online
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Hello, geeks!
Well, what a week…!
Apparently, Instagram is now building custom features just for me 😆
Earlier this week, Facebook finally revealed its much-anticipated plans for social audio to rival Clubhouse and Twitter Spaces. Mark Zuckerberg turned up in Casey Newton’s ‘Sidechannel’ on Discord where he explained how he sees the future of social audio playing out, and how Facebook will be part of it. 
Personally, I think Facebook’s plans for audio are smart and will probably compete well with rival platforms’ spin on audio chat spaces.
That’s not just because of Facebook’s size, scale, and tech capability, but its plans for audio ‘soundbites’ will help creators promote their content, planned monetisation features will incentivise creators to create on the platform, and Facebook has a lot of existing tech it can adapt to handle moderation and content discovery… something Clubhouse will have to build itself from scratch. 
More on this later in the newsletter.
HIDDEN GEM: Social Media Manager Humour: When you tell your boss you’ve sorted an automated monthly report for all social media channels
I couldn’t write this week’s Geekout Newsletter without a salute to Aldi UK’s social media team. If you’ve been off the grid and somehow missed it, here’s what Aldi has been up. Well-played, Aldi. Well played. 👏
Just a quick mention of a couple of NEW Geekout things coming soon:
- NEW: Geekout Newsletter for tech geeks
- NEW: Geekout Audio Show with big-name special guests 
Look out for more about both of these soon!
FYI… The weekly Geekout newsletter chat on Twitter Spaces is taking another break this week, but it will be back next Friday (30 April).
Right… Let’s dig in to this BIGGEST stories making the headlines this week.
— Matt
Tell 10,000+ social media professionals about your app, tool, event, service etc!
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🚨 Everyone's talking about...
If Facebook was starting to look a bit behind the curve with no social audio features to call its own, now there are no such concerns.
‘Throw everything at the wall and see what sticks’ seems the plan, as Facebook revealed Clubhouse-style Live Audio Rooms (to be tested in Groups first), an audio-only version of Reels called Soundbites (which will allow you to put effects on your voice), and a way to discover and play podcasts through pages.
And then there’s ‘Project Boombox’, a partnership with Spotify that will allow users to share clips of music and podcasts from Spotify on Facebook.
But this flurry of announcements was very much about Facebook putting its stake in the ground — none of them have launched yet, although TechCrunch reports that the Spotify integration “has already been tested in non-US markets, including Mexico and Thailand [and is] expected to arrive in about a week.”
As with other players in the social audio space, Facebook plans to offer financial incentives to creators, as TechCrunch reports:
With Live Audio Rooms, fans will be able to support creators through Stars, Facebook’s existing in-app tipping feature, or donate to causes. Facebook says it will later offer other monetization tools like access to Live Audio Rooms on subscriptions. There’s also an Audio Creator Fund being made available to kick off the launch of Soundbites.
Facebook’s plans may excite some creators and tick a lot of boxes for existing users looking for new audio experiences. But it’s fair to say that Facebook has a habit of rolling out big new features to billions of users and worrying about the problems they cause later. Charlie Warzel’s excellent piece about Zuck’s ‘launch now, worry later’ strategy is a great read.
And some creators might have concerns that it will be risky to build a content empire on Facebook, when the company has a habit of shifting its attention away from publishers a few months after launching shiny new initiatives.
Facebook’s audio announcements happened a day after Clubhouse revealed a new funding round, said to be raised at an eyewatering $4 billion valuation. Clubhouse says it plans to spend the money on international expansion, more creator monetisation programmes, content discovery, support, and community health.
But with its initial buzz fading and downloads slowing, not to mention Facebook, Twitter, and many other rivals breathing down its neck, Clubhouse still has an uphill climb ahead, no matter how much money it has in the bank.
Ever posted a corker of a tweet with link to an interesting article you’ve just read, and then seen it get little engagement and hardly any views? You’re not alone.
A new study into Twitter’s algorithmic feed has some interesting findings (not all of them negative), but the most interesting was that external links appear to fare badly:
On average, 51% of tweets in chronological timelines contained an external link, compared to just 18% in the algorithmic timelines (orange in the figure below). The exposure rate to internal Twitter links increased slightly from 12% to 13%, and the exposure rate to internal pictures increased from 19% to 30%.
The way the study worked didn’t take into account the boost the algorithm gives to accounts you’ve interacted with in the past, so it’s not comprehensive, and any study won’t fully capture how every individual user will experience personalised content feeds. But still, the finding is worth bearing in mind as you plan Twitter activity.
Oh, and it’s also a great ad for the merits of the chronological feed!
Accusing Facebook of nefarious behaviour is a popular online sport, so its no surprise that an accidentally-shared PR strategy attracted a lot of attention this week.
As Insider reported:
Belgian tech news site Datanews reported Tuesday that an internal memo intended for Facebook’s European, Middle East, and Africa (EMEA) PR team wound up in its inbox. The memo was about the PR team’s response to Insider’s April 3 report that the personal data of 533 million Facebook users, including their names and phone numbers, had been posted on a hacker forum.
The strategy said “we expect more scraping incidents and think it’s important to both frame this as a broad industry issue and normalize the fact that this activity happens regularly.” It added that Facebook intended to “normalize the fact that this activity is ongoing and avoid criticism that we aren’t being transparent about particular incidents.
I can see why some people thought this sounded devious. ‘Framing’ news, ‘normalising’ bad events, and ‘avoiding criticism’ all sound like propaganda tactics, but really - what else do you expect Facebook to do?
Facebook has to balance multiple priorities like its relationships with data protection regulators around the world over this specific case, not ‘spooking’ users too much (Facebook saw how the WhatsApp terms of service story exploded in its face), and trying to make the bad press go away.
This PR strategy is just a pretty unsurprising output of all those competing interests. That’s not to let Facebook off the hook for not appearing to take this specific case seriously enough, but the PR strategy is pretty straightforward and obvious in the circumstances.
Still, it’s always fascinating to see ‘how the sausage is made’ so social media platform PR teams are welcome to accidentally leak their strategies into my email inox any time!
👀 ICYMI...
Stories you need to know about:
Facebook, Instagram, Messenger, and WhatsApp:
Instagram is rolling out a new tool to automatically filter out abusive DMs
  • Facebook’s Oversight Board has delayed its decision on Trump’s future on the company’s platforms. It says that due to the amount of public interest, the decision has been put back by ‘weeks.’ [TechCrunch]
  • Facebook is expanding its use of surveys to figure out what users find ‘worth their time’ in the News Feed. [Facebook Newsroom]
  • Irish activists have begun EU-wide legal action over the publication of 533m users’ details recently. [BBC News]
  • Facebook admits it “erroneously closed out” a bug bounty report about a vulnerability exploited in a tool that can link email addresses to related Facebook accounts. [Motherboard]
  • More than half of Instagram influencers ‘engaged in fraud’ last year, according to a new study, which also claims 45% of accounts on the platform are ‘fake.’ [PR Week]
  • Instagram is losing out to Snapchat and TikTok in the latest study of which brands are capturing American teens’ hearts. [Fact Company]
  • Instagram keeps blocking the Russian national anthem on copyright grounds, and a Russian regulator isn’t happy. [TorrentFreak]
  • The UK government continues to pressure Facebook over its encrypted messaging plans. [BBC News]
  • Facebook took pre-emptive action ahead of the George Floyd murder trial verdict, announcing it would “remove content that praises, celebrates or mocks George Floyd’s death.” [Insider]
  • Facebook has forced two popular third-party ‘wrapper’ apps, which give a different way of using Facebook on Android, to withdraw from the Play Store and cease development. [Android Police]
  • Facebook is an official partner for the Oscars, which takes place this Sunday. [Adweek $$$]
Twitter tests business profiles so companies can look more profesh
  • Chrissy Teigen returned to Twitter, just over three weeks after she quit, blaming the abuse she received from other users. [Mashable]
TikTok sued for billions over use of children's data
  • Users have been bypassing TikTok’s content filters by posting explicit content in their profile pictures. [BBC News]
  • TikTok-native publishers are starting to explore other platforms like Snapchat. [Digiday $$$]
  • TikTok chief Vanessa Pappas discussed the company’s approach to misinformation and disinformation, in a conversation with the European Commission’s VP for values and transparency. [@v_ness]
  • Apple used TikTok to promote its ‘Spring Loaded’ event this week. [9to5Mac]
  • TikTok’s Hype House is getting its own Netflix reality show [Verge]
And the rest:
Apple will let Parler back on the App Store
  • Microsoft will not acquire Discord. Talks have ended in ‘no deal’. [Bloomberg $$$]
  • Apple is reportedly working on updates to iMessage, to make it more competitive with WhatsApp. [CNBC]
  • Clubhouse says it shut down rooms and removed users after anti-Semitic content was reported on the platform. [@joinClubhouse]
  • A Clubhouse bug let users hide invisibly in a room, able to speak and not be muted. [Wired]
  • More than 10,000 UK government and public sector workers have been targeted by hostile states via social media, according to spy agency MI5. [Sky News]
  • Twitter, Facebook, and Snap are all assisting the White House with its US vaccination drive. [The Verge]
  • Brand safety issues are still a big issue for major social platforms, a new study finds. [AdAge]
  • Six Premier League clubs are reportedly in discussions to use Respondology, software that blocks abuse in real-time. The Football Association is also said to be interested. It reportedly works well on all major platforms except Twitter. [The Athletic $$$]
  • YouTube has revealed that it uses a custom chip called ‘Argos’ in its servers to help the platform keep up with demand. [CNet]
  • Teens are using social platforms to expose how they see band Tramp Stamps as faking their indie credibility. [The Verge]
  • Snapchat now has more users on Android than iOS…for the first time ever [The Verge]
  • YouTube will now let creators change channel names without affecting their Google account [Tubefilter]
  • Snapchat hits 280 million users + it’s TikTok-like video feature Spotlight hits 125m users [Social Media Today]
  • Spotify set to take on Apple Podcasts subscriptions with new service that won’t charge content creators [Macrumors via WSJ]
❓ Question of the week
We’ve all stumbled upon those people who claim to be ‘social media gurus’, with ‘secret hacks’ and tricks to ‘go viral’.
Their advice and top tips are often more jaw-droppingly bad than mind-blowingly clever.
Check out the Question of the Week below for some spot-on replies on this topic from our social media manager friends…
🟣 Matt Navarra
The BEST 'social media guru' trick to 'hack' the algorithm

Wrong answers only.
🔨 Tool of the week
🐣 Tweet of the week
This was an epic week for brand responses to big news stories. The European Super League debacle brought responses like this…
…and this fun one from Google UK.
Google UK
For the benefit of no six football teams in particular, here's how you can use Gmail to recall an email after you've sent it. 👍🏻
Meanwhile, the UK was busy talking about supermarket warfare over caterpillar cakes. Marks & Spencer sued Aldi over a familiar-looking cake. Aldi milked to publicity for all it was worth with tweets like this, and other brands got in on the action too.
🔍 Insights
Social media data, insights and reports to give you an edge at work:
  • What were the most talked about brands on Instagram, TikTok, and YouTube in 2020? Shein fares particularly well on the lists here. [Insider $$$]
  • Want to stay on top of TikTok trends for your work? Try the app’s new Business Creative Hub. [Social Media Today]
  • Why does Pepsi not put much emphasis on organic content on TikTok? [Digiday $$$]
  • Want to understand YouTube’s recommendation system? Try its new explainer video. [Social Media Today]
  • How do you improve your chance of success with LinkedIn InMail? A new study gives some pointers. [Fast Company]
  • Want to use LinkedIn Stories for your brand? The company has some pointers for you. [Social Media Today]
  • Looking for help with Organic Video Post Testing on Facebook? Facebook has published a couple of case studies. [Facebook for Media]
  • Advertising on Facebook? The company has issued a reminder of how advertisers can prepare for iOS 14.5 anti-user-tracking option. [Social Media Today]
  • How can publishers use Instagram to grow their audience? Facebook has shared lessons from Reach’s experience in the UK. [Facebook Journalism Project]
  • Who are the top TikTok talent managers and agents you should know about? [Insider $$$]
  • Facebook shares marketing tips in its latest ‘Social Skills’ video [Social Media Today]
📲 Quick hits
Updates, experiments, and useful info snippets:
  • Facebook has launched a new tool to help users export posts and notes to Google Docs, WordPress, or Blogger. [The Verge]
  • Facebook’s ‘Topics’ feature is popping up for some users. [Social Media Today]
  • And Facebook will let advertisers target video ads based on topics. [TechCrunch]
  • Facebook has expanded its ‘Related Discussion’ feature in the News Feed. [Social Media Today]
  • Facebook has nixed talk of an Oculus Quest Pro coming this year. The Quest 2 will remain the focus of its VR efforts for now. [UploadVR]
  • Oculus announced plenty of new VR games this week. [UploadVR]
  • Facebook is trying to tempt users with Instagram-linked accounts to sync who they follow on both platforms. [@MattNavarra]
  • Facebook trying to encourage verified accounts to comment on more posts. [@MattNavarra]
  • Facebook has revealed 30 newsrooms joining its latest Journalism Project accelerator. [Facebook Journalism Project]
  • Instagram is testing ads in Reels and Sticker Ads in Stories. [The Verge]
An example of Instagram sticker ads. Credit: Instagram
An example of Instagram sticker ads. Credit: Instagram
  • Instagram is working on making it quicker and easier to add links to Stories. [@alex193a]
  • Instagram has been spotted adding an effects shortcut button in Stories. [@MattNavarra]
  • Ads have been spotted in Instagram’s Reels feed. [@MattNavarra]
  • Instagram is showing a prompt to make more people aware of the Remix feature in Reels. [@testingcatalog]
  • Instagram is working on WhatsApp integration when creating a promotion with a ‘More Messages’ goal. [@alex193a]
  • Instagram is building a redesigned video call grid view. [@alex193a]
  • Instagram is developing a ‘Limit Sensitive Content’ section in account settings. [@insta_leaks]
  • Instagram is working on a Star Wars chat theme. [@alex193a]
  • Instagram has four different types of camera icon for Reels in the works. [@insta_leaks]
  • WhatsApp continues to work on a self-destructing media feature, but it seems it will be possible to screenshot media sent this way without detection. [WABetaInfo]
  • WhatsApp has released a new sticker pack to mark Earth Day. [@WhatsApp]
  • Twitter now lets all users upload and view 4K images on iOS and Android. [@TwitterSupport]
  • Twitter is working on a new tweet layout, with name and username split over two lines, with the timestamp beside the username. [@wongmjane]
  • Twitter is rolling out the ability to add a background image when you share a tweet in a fleet. It’s available on iOS only at first. [@Twitter]
Credit: A fleet with a tweet and a background image. Credit: Twitter
Credit: A fleet with a tweet and a background image. Credit: Twitter
  • TikTok is working on pin-able comments. [@alex193a]
  • TikTok now lets you add a ‘topic’ when setting up a TikTok livestream. [@MattNavarra]
  • TikTok has teamed up with Diplo to promote the new ‘Delayed Beats’ effect. [@tiktok_us]
  • TikTok has handed control of its @TikTokForGood account to media company ATTN: for the next year. [Adweek $$$]
  • YouTube’s Select brand advertising service has been expanded with seasonal sponsorships. [9to5Google]
  • Snapchat is developing ‘Shared Story’, which lets users invite others to collaborate on a story, and then those users can invite more people to take part. [@alex193a]
  • Snapchat is working on a ‘favorites’ section for stickers. [@alex193a]
  • Reddit has officially revealed its Clubhouse-style ‘Reddit Talk’ feature. [The Verge]
  • Reddit is working to improve its search experience. [Adweek $$$]
  • Pinterest has launched a Content Claiming Portal, to help creators control their content’s use on the platform. [Pinterest Newsroom]
  • Pinterest and Shopify have expanded their ecommerce partnership to 27 additional countries. [Adweek $$$]
  • Discord has loosened restrictions on NSFW content in its iOS app, after user complaints. [The Verge]
  • Telegram is testing new payments features in its beta app. [@testingcatalog]
  • Twitch is adding threaded replies to chat [Engadget]
  • Twitter is working on a Twitter Spaces player for its web app [@wongmjane]
  • Twitter’s upcoming Tip Jar button for profiles spotted [@wongmjane]
  • Twitter is testing multiple versions of its incoming ‘Super Follow’ button on profiles [@wongmjane]
📖 Weekend reading
How TikTok chooses which songs go viral [$$$]
💀 Meme of the week
📅 Back next week...
Nice work, my friend!
You made it to the end. 👍
You are now fully briefed on all that went down in social media land this week.
I spent the whole day writing this newsletter for you.
For free.
Can you do me a favour?
Tell all your Twitter followers about it
Right folks… Time for me to go troll some brands on Twitter.
My regular Friday night. :)
Goodbye geeks!
— Matt
This newsletter is edited by Martin SFP Bryant.
Copyright 2021: Matt Navarra Media Ltd
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