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Author Archive for Carter Breazeale

Facebook Looking into Removing “Likes” from Newsfeeds

Both Twitter and Instagram have been toying with the idea of removing “likes” from posts on their main newsfeed, and it seems that Facebook may be following suit.

Facebook is looking into taking “likes” out of the equation, making them only visible to the user on their own profile. This would obviously mark a major shift in the way the platform operates, but also potentially make it a much friendlier (and healthier) place to be. Likes have turned into a dopamine fix of sorts for many users—even becoming the impetus to even post status updates or pictures in the first place.

When that photo or status update doesn’t achieve the desired number of likes, well, it kind of hurts. Suddenly the reaction (and number of reactions) has eclipsed the value of the original content itself, and become a primary driver to sharing on Facebook.

Facebook is seeking a return to when original content was posted for its own sake—not just to gauge the online echo chamber’s reactions. It also wants to remove the scenario where internal worth is received through one’s internet prowess.

Personally, I believe this move away from “likes” is a good one for social media platforms. With so many younger people practically living in the social media stratosphere, their self-esteem can be tethered to their popularity online. That’s obviously not a very healthy way to operate, and can mold one’s personality to constantly seek out validation from others.

By looking into removing the visibility of reactions, Facebook is on the cusp of radically changing its platform. But it might just be a move in the right direction: one that puts value and emphasis on simply sharing content, as opposed to a competition for engagement.

It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year: The Annual Apple Event

Summer is nearly over and fall is a couple of weeks away, so that means one thing: it’s Apple announcement time! The tech giant’s biggest event of the year kicks off today at 1:00 pm EST, and Apple is expected to unveil the iPhone 11 for the first time.

Gadgetheads: Get ready.

Apple traditionally rolls out a new slate of tech gear right in time for the holiday season, leading to massive lines at malls and electronics stores of those who want to be one of the first to own the latest technology. It’s a model that’s worked extremely effectively for the company; roll out their shiny new products at a massive event, let the hype build, and watch the profits inevitably stream in.

Today should be no different.

The newest versions of the iPhone should be the marquee announcement, but Apple will also likely reveal other products and services, such as an upgrade to its OS. The iPhone 11 is rumored to not be much of a departure from last year’s iPhone X, leading to some speculation in the tech arena that it won’t lead to the typical fervor that accompanies new iPhone announcements. We’ve heard those familiar rumblings before—remember the initial questions about the iPad’s viability?—and so far the company seems to consistently hit their mark.

So if you, like myself, find excitement in new Apple rollouts, you’ll likely be tuning in today at 1. We’ll see what Tim Cook & Co. have in store.

Twitter Devolved into a Brand Battle Over Chicken Sandwiches

Where were you during The Great Chicken Sandwich Wars of 2019? If you’re still a bit shaken and apprehensive about logging on to Twitter, I don’t blame you—it got pretty rough out there. If you have no idea what I’m talking about, that’s okay, too; this intrepid blogger is here to fill you in on all of the details.

Last week, Popeye’s unveiled its brand new chicken sandwich, and then immediately pivoted to the new method of marketing online: dragging other competing brands on social media. The Louisiana Fast fried chicken purveyor set its sights directly on another beloved company, Chick-fil-A. Thus the first shots were fired in the battle for chicken sandwich supremacy.

Not content simply staying out of the fray, infamous online instigator Wendy’s joined the vanguard, throwing a rainforest’s worth of shade at both Popeyes and Chick-fil-A for “arguing over who has the second best chicken sandwich.”

Yikes.  

Other food companies began chiming in as well, using the amplified springboard of the chicken sandwich war underway on line. Shake Shack and Zaxby’s deployed less direct attacks, but they tossed their respective chicken sandwiches into the mix for consideration for top tier. It turned into a weird, wild week on fast food Twitter.

So the result from The Great Chicken Sandwich War of 2019? Jam-packed Popeye’s locations, drive-thru’s packed to the gills with eager patrons, and most disturbingly, restaurants completely sold out of the new sandwich. The victor has yet to be determined, but it’s clear that the war has worked.

Unique marketing these days involves embracing an edgy brand voice on the internet, and Popeye’s executed it perfectly with their chicken sandwich rollout. When you drive an engaging conversation you enhance your reach, create brand loyalty, and in the case of Popeye’s, sell a ton of chicken sandwiches. Added bonus: it’s entirely free advertising.

So the war for the top chicken sandwich rages on, but Popeye’s has already won the advertising and marketing angle. Be careful out there should you decide to brave the elements and venture out for one.

 

The Weaponization of Social Media in Hong Kong Protests

The upheaval in Hong Kong has captured the world’s attention, as it should. In response to Hong Kong’s consideration of a new extradition bill from Beijing, thousands from the semi-autonomous region of China have taken to the streets in response to what they see as an authoritative move from the Beijing government. There’s been weeks of marches, a two-day shutdown of the Hong Kong Airport, and at times violent clashes with police and security personnel.

Today we’re learning that Facebook and Twitter have intervened, flagging and subsequently taking down a network of accounts tied to the Chinese government. The accounts were promoting and amplifying an anti-protest message, one designed to create political division online.

It was a coordinated propaganda campaign, essentially.

Social media is obviously no stranger to platforms being utilized to manipulative political narratives and opinions. Its weaponization was the biggest takeaway from the Brexit referendum and the 2016 U.S. Presidential Election. Mitigating the spread of falsehoods has been one of the primary focuses for Facebook and Twitter, and now they have successfully rooted out a state-sponsored social media campaign to sow disharmony among the populace.

Their swift action should be commended, but it of course begs the question: What took so long?

Peek around any corner of the social space and you’re bound to come across a conversation that devolves into acrimony. We’ve of course discovered that there are legions of bots employed to push specific messages, and many times their work is successful—reaching intended viral status. While Twitter and Facebook have made progress in the case of the strife in Hong Kong, both will need to hasten their efforts to cut these campaigns off at the pass before they have a chance to influence public opinion.

We’re a few months away from an election year, and there’s no doubt that these forces will be at work to shape—and disrupt—the conversation. Social media outlets are slowly learning the ways and means to defend against misinformation, but the next step will be to sniff it out before it spreads. Shutting down the Chinese government’s propaganda campaign is a decent start, but this will certainly continue as we head into 2020.        

Facebook to rebrand WhatsApp & Instagram

When your social media platform has been the subject of investigations, congressional hearings, front page stories, and forced to pay fines for privacy lapses, well, sometimes a slight rebrand is in order. That’s what Facebook is doing with two of its biggest social assets, Instagram and WhatsApp.

Facebook has been under fire for quite some time, and in a move apparently designed to provide more clarity to app users, the company will be rebranding both Instagram and WhatsApp as “Instagram by Facebook” and “WhatsApp by Facebook”. Each app will look the same on your phone screen, but its new name will be reflected in the Google Play and App Store.

It’s a very minor change, but any time you tinker with naming and branding it’s a pretty big deal—especially when you’re discussing one of the titans in the social space. Privacy and data rights have been driven to the fore in the wake of the Cambridge Analytica scandal, and so far, Facebook has attempted to be transparent with their changes to address concerns.

That is seemingly one of the drivers behind this rebrand, which will officially consolidate the three platforms under the Facebook umbrella. One of the interface changes that will accompany the move will be cross-platform communication—the ability to send a message to a buddy on Facebook from your WhatsApp or Instagram app, instead of having to utilize each platform’s individual messaging tools.

A minor performance tweak, but one that will promote seamless communication across Facebook’s apps.

Things never stay the same for long in Internetland, and Facebook’s rebrand of its two biggest social platforms is yet another example. We’ll see when the change is ultimately made and reflected in the App Store.