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Tips for Using Google+ Collections

Google+ Collections are the latest, and greatest, major feature to be added to Google+, at a time when many other features are being removed (due to deintegration of Google+ from the wider Google ecosystem).

Using Collections is now a must to get the most out of using Google+, especially if your goals including reaching a larger, more engaged, more targeted audience on the network.

Many people, however, have questions about how to get started with, and how best, to make use of this feature. In the following article, I offer my own tips for using Collections. What qualifies me to offer such tips? The fact that I've had multiple Collections featured, including one Collection (Technology; with over 180K Followers, which is growing by over 10K Followers per week on average.

If you're interested in this topic, be sure to tune in to see me on +Meloney Hall's Lights, Camera, HOA! show later today, where we'll be discussing Google+ Collections in greater depth:

Will you use Google+ Collections as part of your strategy in 2016?

#Collections #SocialMediaTips #SocialMediaMarketing

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Google Pushing Log-Ins In New Advertising Update

In time for Ad Week, Google is taking the lid off some major new advertising updates, including promoting log-ins as a new way to track users for ad targeting and personalization across apps, sites, and devices.

In the past, Google's tracking has been based largely on cookies and mobile ID's (such as the Advertising ID of Android devices). The shift to promoting log-ins means Google is now confident that their logged-in user base is sufficient to provide an additional, and in some ways superior, metric.

Facebook has actually been ahead of Google on this, due to their enormous base of users who signed up for Profiles. One reason for the Search Company's push for Google+ was to match them in this area. While Google+'s user base has never come close to rivaling Facebook, the accompanying shift to a unified Google account system (i.e. one account system that grants access to all parts of the Google ecosystem) has been extremely successful.

Between Gmail, YouTube, Android, and more, Google now has enough logged-in users to rival Facebook in that area, and while they still lack the 'Social Graph' advantage of their Social Network rival, their capacity to track users across a variety of devices and many different parts of an ecosystem of services and applications may in some ways even surpass Facebook now.

Given the growing antithesis to tracking cookies, especially in some key markets like Europe, this move may help safeguard their advertising future, while giving extremely privacy minded individuals the power to escape ad tracking just by signing out. Granting, cookies and mobile ID's will continue to exist as a tracking metric for now, but in the possible if not probable future where such things are illegal, blocked en masse by ad blockers and browser Privacy Settings, or regulated into virtual nonexistence in some or most major markets, the log-in may become the singular viable form of user ad tracking.

#GoogleUpdates #Analytics

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Key Facebook Video Ads Metric Was Grossly Wrong For 2-Years

Several weeks ago, Facebook quietly admitted that the key video metric of average viewing time of video ads was way, way, waaaay off for 2-years.

The company wasn't factoring view times of less than 3-seconds into the metric, inflating the average view times of their video ads by 60-80% or more, which is more than a small difference.

The company claims this was an "error", but if we're honest we all know that it wasn't an accident, but rather a way to artificially inflate the metric to be more appealing to advertisers, which is also the same reason they chose the pathetically small figure of '3-seconds or longer of auto play' as a view, whereas competitor YouTube uses a much longer period (about 30-seconds).

Clearly, this will impact perceptions of how effective Facebook video ads really are, and raise questions as to whether other such metrics are similarly in "error", despite The Social Network's promise to "fix" this issue.

#SocialMedia #SocialMediaMarketing #FacebookVideo

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This Motherf%&ing Website Is Probably Better Than Yours

The following contains profanity and other harsh language and is definitely NSFW, and it is also (by its own admission) a satire, but... most great satire, it contains a powerful core truth, which is quite simply this:

Your website probably sucks, and it's your fault.

"Websites aren't broken by default, they are functional, high-performing, and accessible. You break them."

#Satire #WebDesign

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eBay Starts Supporting AMP For Its Mobile Site

eBay has begun rolling out support for Google's Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP), a standard designed to produce mobile web pages that load instantly and have a small data footprint even on low end mobile devices with slow and/or costly data plans.

The most interesting thing about this is that AMP is primarily intended for static content pages, and not for online retail or auction pages.

For eBay, though, this probably makes a lot of sense, and suggests that AMP will not be limited to content pages in practice.

#AMP #MobileSEO

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AMP Ads Get Greater Visibility and Higher CTR's

A study of Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) ad formats has found that AMP ads receive higher viewability rates and higher clickthrough rates. While the AMP format has been greeted with skepticism in some circles, it appears that the loading speed of pages on mobile devices is a disproportionately large factor in the performance of both web content and advertising.

#AMP #Advertising

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Dealing With Trolls

This great video from +Sean Tucker​ breaks down the simple truth of trolls: they're frustrated because either they will never be as creative as you are, or they're just not there yet. They're attracted to great creative stuff because raging against your efforts is the only way they can feel better about themselves.

I can honestly admit that I am not always perfect at handling trolling behaviors on my content. I learn and get better over time, but I also have relapses into battling them, sometimes because I engaged with them with only the best of intentions only to have olive branches taken and turned around on me as a weapon against me.

The most dangerous type of trolling is the type that draws you in slowly, amping your anger and frustration little by little. It isn't the guy who says 'Screw You, Loser!' from the word go, because that guy is the one you block or just ignore. It's the guy who dangles a bit of apparent reasonableness, making you think you can persuade them with reason or passion or both, only to lure you into a trap from which fighting back often feels like the only response.

I especially resonated with his point about how the trolls themselves never produce anything worthy of attention. Click through and you find they've added little or nothing or value to the interwebs themselves, and sometimes little or nothing at all.

You won't be perfect, and sometimes responding or blocking is the right thing to do, but like learning to ride a horse, just keep trying, keep sticking with it until you get it, and don't let them mess your Zen up in the process.

#Troll #Trolling

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ReviveAds Blocks Ad Blockers (In the Best Possible Way)

Ad Blockers are costing online publishers billions every year, and it was only a matter of time before the inevitable backlash occurred and publishers started trying to block the blockers.

The problem is that most tools to try to block ad blockers depend on blocking access to the content itself and asking the user to disable their ad blocker, which is unlikely to succeed, makes the publisher look more like 'the enemy' that those blockers were made specifically to deal with, and doesn't really address the reasons ad blockers became so popular.

After all, it isn't the mere existence of ads that drove ad blockers to success, but the obnoxious, annoying, and bloated nature of many ads, such as autoplay audio and video ads, overlay ads, and animated ads. These ads can not only be insufferable in themselves, but can significantly slow down the loading and scrolling of web pages. Sure, there are people who would block ads no matter what, but the annoyance and bloat factors are what irritate most web users.

ReviveAds, instead, circumvents the ad blockers and serves up the ads, but only non-annoying ads, and not the aforementioned annoying and bloated types of ads everyone hates. In exchange for this service, they ask for a cut of site revenue, similar to how major ad blockers like AdBlock Plus have done to the ad providers themselves. ReviveAds CEO Mark Bauman claims to have seen no evidence of user backlash against sites using their technology as a result.

Of course, it's truly sad that it got to this point in the first place. It shouldn't take exploitation by ad blockers and ad blocker-blockers to get advertisers and publishers to realize that annoying and bloated ads don't work because they annoy users and drive them away and into the arms of anything that promises to solve this problem. Going forward, we can only hope that publishers will do the right thing in the first place and not annoy their users, thus making both types of technologies unnecessary.

#AdBlock #Advertising

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Rethinking AMP and Instant Articles: Signalling Theory & Audience Segmentation
This is the year that the Mobile web goes 'Instant', with new Mobile web standards like Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP), Facebook Instant Articles, and even an equivalent standard for Apple News.
Of course, it won't get there without a price being paid: these new standards forego many of the bells and whistles of traditional web pages in order to achieve this laudable goal of Near Zero Load Time, and empowers service providers like Google, Twitter, Facebook, and Apple to act as content hosts.
These facts have made this somewhat controversial, with many website owners and developers concerned that these new standards will put them at the mercy of these companies while narrowing their range of design options.
I believe this is a mistaken perspective, however, as I explain in the following article, that these new standards need to be understood contextually, as both 'signals' to service providers that a given piece of content will be very fast-loading, and as a means of segmenting audiences viewing the selfsame web content from within different browsing contexts, between those who need and would benefit from the full and dynamic website experience and those who just want to quickly consume a piece of web content and then return quickly and smoothly to their Stream, News Feed, Search Results, etc..., and without surpassing their data caps in the process.
The needs and expectations of Mobile users and PC users, and even Mobile users in different contexts, can vary significantly, and it is ultimately good for everyone, site users, owners, and developers alike, if these differences are recognized and adjustments made for the different types of users and contexts. These new fast-loading Mobile web standards are one way to begin to solve and address these issues.
#AMP #InstantArticles

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How Social Media Changed Branding Forever

Who hates brands on social media, show of hands? Keep them up for a moment... now, if you're a marketer, put your hands up as well... as I thought, that's 100% of you hate brands on social media except for the marketers (and if you're an honest marketer... you probably hate them, too, at least when you're not the one promoting them).

OK, so I'm being a bit hyperbolic... but just slightly. The numbers don't lie: big brands aren't winning the social wars. Very few Mega Brands, in fact, have earned a spot among the most followed and engaged social profiles.

It wasn't supposed to be this way. Brands were supposed to be able to use the power of social media, and the kind of high quality 'branded content' only big money can produce consistently, to capture the attention of the awestruck masses, earning a spot on your social 'Friends List'.

People don't want it, though, as it turns out. Brand engagement is declining, not growing. Personal brands and brandless 'causes'/'movements'/'communities' have steamrolled them. Facebook makes a lot of money acting as a 'bouncer' between you and brands unless they 'pay the price'... and most of their billion users seem perfectly fine with that fact.

The problem is that brands want social media to bring all the advantages of a social platform, with the 'access control' of a more restrictive media platform like television or radio, where the channels for user attention are finite and advertising is an inescapable reality a captive audience passively accepts.

The internet is never ending, with more accessible content than any one person could hope to go through in a lifetime even if nothing new were ever added. Ads are either relegated to screen real estate users learn to ignore, restricted to avoid annoying them, skipped, or actively blocked with apps and browser extensions. And because it is open to everyone, any group however niche can find a community, form an online culture, and build an influential voice and the power to amplify a message.

For brands to succeed, they must recognize this basic reality: that in the social media era, Culture is the new Brand. Building a 'Community' around your brand is a Herculean and most likely futile task... but the barrier to entry of becoming a prominent voice within a culture or subculture (even, if necessary, by allowing your brand to take a backseat in the public eye) and tapping into that is lower.

#BrandingTips #SocialMediaTips #SocialMediaMarketing
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