July 13, 2018

Twitter is cutting millions of dubious accounts from user follower counts, the company announced on Wednesday, as the platform continues its efforts to weed out trolls and fake accounts.

Locked accounts, which have been made inactive until further verification by Twitter, will be expunged from follower counts starting on Thursday, the company announced in a blog post.

“Most people will see a change of four followers or fewer; others with larger follower counts will experience a more significant drop,” said Vijaya Gadde, Twitter’s head of legal, policy, and trust. “We understand this may be hard for some, but we believe accuracy and transparency make Twitter a more trusted service for public conversation.”

Twitter noted these accounts are different from spam and bot accounts — two other issues that have plagued the platform — in that they were usually started by “real people,” but the company is unable to verify they’re still being run by their initial creators.

The announcement follows the Washington Post’s report last week Twitter is increasingly cracking down on fake accounts, with the company suspending 70 million accounts between May and June. The company’s stock fell 9 percent on Monday, as Wall Street worried Twitter’s plan to cleanup its platform would impact its user base. Twitter said on Thursday its removal of locked accounts from follower counts will not impact its daily or monthly user count.

Gadde said the removal of locked accounts aims to give users a more “meaningful and accurate” depiction of follower counts.


Originally reported:

June 21, 2018

Here’s a look at Instagram’s longform video feature IGTV

June 2, 2018

Its rate limit was slashed from 5,000 calls per hour to 200, without warning

Instagram has become a key pillar of most influencer marketing strategies, but what happens when that pillar starts to crumble without warning because of privacy controversies at its parent company, Facebook?

On March 30, Instagram slashed the rate limit on its platform API (application-programming interface) from 5,000 calls per hour to 200 with no advance notice for developers.
The lower rate limit provides access to far less data than developers were able to pull prior to the change, forcing some to make tough choices about where to allocate their calls.

Ryan Detert, CEO of Influential, an influencer marketing platform backed by IBM’s Watson, said some of his company’s third-party partners have resorted to rationing the number of hashtags they track, while others have found tools such as sentiment-tracking APIs to be unavailable or limited.

Detert pointed out that verified business accounts on Instagram have access to more than 200 calls per hour. However, Mavrck co-founder and CEO Lyle Stevens countered, “Several influencer platforms instructed creators to switch over to Instagram business profiles immediately to continue using their services, which we feel is impulsive and self-serving.”

Instagram abruptly announced last Wednesday that the depreciation of the Instagram API Platform in favor of the Instagram Graph API—which was originally scheduled to occur in two phases, July 31 and Dec. 11—was happening “effective immediately,” again leaving developers no time to prepare.

Joseph Varghese, co-founder and head of technology at social media analytics provider Unmetric, described his company’s reaction to last week’s developments: “Fortunately, some parts have already been converted to use the Graph API and the rest are being explored right now. It’s an inconvenience for our clients who expect to see uninterrupted competitive data for Instagram, but we hope and expect to have things up and running again once Instagram starts reopening access.”

Some influencer marketing platforms escaped relatively unscathed, as they rely on first-party opt-ins from creators to directly access their data, using API tokens only for that purpose and relying on fewer calls per hour than other platforms.

Why did everything occur so abruptly? Pierre-Loic Assayag, co-founder and CEO of influencer marketing platform Traackr, echoed the surprise of many in his industry, saying, “Facebook has always had a true developer culture. Even when it is changing its terms, it has always allowed for a bit of lead time and provided an explanation.”

Detert agreed, saying, “I get why they did it. I would have loved a better heads up.”

Instagram is far too embedded in most influencer marketing strategies for companies to declare that they will drastically cut back their emphasis on the platform or leave it altogether, and common themes among those we spoke with were being “platform-agnostic” and finding ways to make their platforms work in the new environment.

Detert did not foresee a mass influencer exodus, saying, “Consumers are still on Instagram and love the product. Despite there being less data because people weren’t prepared for this, influencers still have deals.”

Assayag did not seem to be on the verge of immediate moves, either, saying, “There’s no freak-out factor for us. In the short term, we’ll figure out ways to keep the lights on with some of the Instagram data that is still available.”

However, he did not rule out a shift in the near future, adding, “More of a question for us and our clients is: How is it going to affect the behavior of influencers? Many of them were betting on Instagram, and there is probably going to be a reallocation of time and resources. I’m not suggesting that Instagram is going down the tubes because of this, but it will hinder its momentum, particularly with millennials and Gen Z.”

Meanwhile, Mavrck had already begun prioritizing Pinterest before the changes last week, with Stevens pointing to its commerce focus, the longer half-life of content on that platform (“several months versus several days”) and its “search-first nature,” which he said “allows creator content to be exposed to more people than it is via Instagram’s ‘follow a creator.’”

“I’m not saying this is the wrong move for Facebook and Instagram, but it’s going to hurt them more than they know,” Assayag said.

Original Story: Adweek – David Cohen, Editor of Adweek’s Social Pro Daily

June 2, 2018

Instagram introduced Business Profiles in 2016. Since then many businesses have chosen to switch their Instagram accounts from a personal profile to a business profile.

The change seemed inevitable, with Instagram now being owned by Facebook. In many ways, Instagram acts as an extension of Facebook, emphasizing the visual element, and this is particularly the case for business accounts and advertising.

There has been some resistance to making the change though. Many businesses have noticed the lower organic reach of their Facebook pages compared to personal Facebook profiles. They were worried that the same would happen with Instagram. In practice, however, there does not appear to be as much stigma attached to an Instagram Business Profile than there is to a Facebook Business Page. If you continue to share quality material through your Instagram Account, you are unlikely to see much if any reduction in organic reach.

This doesn’t mean that you should avoid having a Facebook Page for your business, however, as operating a Facebook page is a requirement for being able to convert to an Instagram Business Profile.

You will lose two features when you convert to a business profile, however:

  1. The ability to make your posts private
  2. The ability to link to multiple Facebook profiles – instead you connect your Instagram account to your business’ Facebook page

In reality, although these features may be of value to a personal account, they would have little if any use for a business account, wanting to market, which is probably why Instagram removed them.

December 8, 2017

All brands are shifting over to Audience Insight’s main platform

Facebook’s Audience Insight scrubs everything from demographics to income data.
Getty Images

Facebook has long held a tight grip on what data advertisers can and cannot access. Now, it’s pulling some of the reins away from social media vendors as it shutters its Audience Insight API.

This week, Facebook quietly shut down its research tool, which allowed social vendors including Spredfast to build billion-dollar businesses by tapping into the social network’s firehose of data and crunch vast amounts of user information for marketers.

Audience Insights digs up aggregated demographic, interest and lifestyle data, including age, education levels, job titles, hobbies, family size, income and location. Importantly, Audience Insights is not part of Facebook’s significantly bigger Marketing API that hundreds of ad-tech companies like Adobe and Hootsuite use to manage budgets, create audience profiles and run campaigns. Now that the API is closing, the social vendors—and all companies—are being transferred over to another version of the Audience Insights program, where Facebook supplies its data directly to marketers instead of going through a middleman.

In a statement, Facebook said: “We have decided to focus marketers on our more broadly available Audience Insights tool, so we are winding down the Audience Insights API by end of year. We’ll continue testing different ways to provide valuable insights to advertisers and agencies through the tool and across other destinations on Facebook.”

Can marketers trust Facebook?

However, removing middlemen from Audience Insights is causing some marketers to question the validity in unvetted metrics from Facebook; the platform is simultaneously embroiled with Congress over Russia-backed adspurchased during the 2016 presidential election, leaving marketers feeling even more uneasy about the social giant.

“Most advertisers do see value in the data that Facebook provides, but with all the recent news, it’s been a little bit more challenging to trust it as much as we used to,” said Courtney Blount, associate director at The Media Kitchen. “It goes against what they’re trying to [convey], which is [that] they are transparent and willing to share their data. I do wonder if they will go through with this knowing how much PR they’re trying to do.”

Blount also questioned Facebook’s interest in getting into areas beyond advertising, noting that it is historically “not heavy on client services—I would be interested to see if they were providing these insights on a more ongoing basis directly to agencies and brands.”

Kirk Drummond, CEO of Drumroll, said that shutting the door on Facebook’s data could be a good thing in light of its current controversies. “There’s definitely something to be said about limiting who has access to the data, because you also limit how many people have to defend somebody trying to come after that data,” he said.

Over the past 18 months or so, advertisers have increasingly demanded transparency from Facebook’s data following a string of measurement problem discoveries. According to Carolyn Everson, vp of global marketing solutions,Facebook has 24 partnerships with third-party measurement companies to vet the platform’s stats.

Facebook launched the Audience Insight API at Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity in 2016; Mondelez and Anheuser-Busch were the first brands to test it. Since then, the API has remained in beta, and a handful of social aggregators that pull data from multiple social platforms are plugged into the API.

Revenue potential

Agency execs said Facebook doesn’t charge for Audience Insights—yet.

During recent earnings calls, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has communicated to investors that Facebook is close to hitting a tipping point with ad load, and that it soon won’t be able to pack more ads into newsfeeds. As a result, it’s eyeing new forms of revenue through its messaging app Messenger and could turn Insight Audiences into a paid product that scrubs Facebook’s users for deep troves of data.

“My hunch is that it reflects ongoing efforts to figure out how to monetize,” said Drummond.

The Media Kitchen’s Blount added that a new revenue stream could also help Facebook make further inroads directly with brands and marketers by cutting out an agency or social vendor.

“It could be potentially turning into a new revenue stream for them to provide additional access to clients and brands,” she said.

Additional reporting by Marty Swant.

Originally Reported: