Author Archives for Tara Saylor

Tara Saylor

About Tara Saylor

Tara Saylor is a communications manager by day, grad student by night and curious all the time. She is also a web nerd and recovering copywriter. Tara focuses on the channels that enable communication and using metrics to improve communication effectiveness.

Microsoft Buys LinkedIn: A $26.2 Billion Dollar Investment in Social Collaboration

June 14, 2016 - Posted by Comments Off on Microsoft Buys LinkedIn: A $26.2 Billion Dollar Investment in Social Collaboration

There have been rumors swirling about big things about to happen on LinkedIn. With the recently launched Profinder feature for freelancers, an increased focus on content, and improved analytics.

Clippy on LinkedInThis week, big things happened indeed, and frankly, none of us saw that one coming. Microsoft announced that they would be buying LinkedIn for a cool $26.2 billion (yes, that’s billion-with-a-b.) Time is calling it the second-largest major tech acquisition in recent history, and almost $5 billion more than Facebook paid for WhatsApp.

Overnight, Microsoft has gone from focusing on enterprise social collaboration with things like Yammer and Office 365 and turned itself into a pretty big player in social media.

And the reason?  A few big themes are coming out in the coverage:

Buzzfeed describes it as “two unavoidable institutions of corporate life merging.” We’re all just hoping that neither of them brings back Clippy.

 

About the author:
Tara Saylor Litzenberger is a communications manager by day, grad student by night and curious all the time. She is also a web nerd and recovering copywriter. Tara focuses on the channels that enable communication and using metrics to improve communication effectiveness. She tweets about communication and combines as @AnokheeTara.


Facebook IS the Trending Topic

May 31, 2016 - Posted by Comments Off on Facebook IS the Trending Topic

It started out an expose’ on algorithms. Michael Nunez, himself a “reporter, editor and tv personality,” wrote a scathing blog post about Facebook’s “grueling work conditions [and] humiliating treatment” of a group of news curators behind Facebook’s trending news.Facebook trending

The original article was a combination of Silicon-Valley-sweatshop horror and  machines-are-coming-for-your-job dystopia. But what really caught people’s attention were allegations that news with a conservative viewpoint was being suppressed.

To be clear, Facebook insists that wasn’t the case, and they have always admitted that humans are part of the trending topics process. Technically, they’re not even calling it news, just acknowledging that the topic is trending.

None of that stopped the GOP from launching an inquiry and demanding that Facebook explain itself. Which Facebook did, along a promise to revise the process to ensure no bias could creep in.

Why does all of this matter? Two reasons. First, it shows exactly how much influence Facebook has over what people consume online, and second, it shows how little transparency there is around the process.

Pew Internet Research found that 40 percent of American adults are getting news from Facebook, a number than has been steadily rising over the past two years. Plus, Facebook Live and Instant articles are designed to bring more and more content into the site.

With all this content, Facebook is using an algorithm to decide what gets shown to its users. It’s generally based on a user’s history and preferences, but companies have long been able to boost their visibility with paid reach. These accusations make it hard not to wonder what other factors could be at play.

It’s not that users are surprised to know that someone is filtering their news—after all, we’ve been relying on reporters, editors, anchors and other journalists to help us do that for centuries. News organizations have been looking after the bottom line for just as long. With human filters, it’s fairly easy to understand the process and their unavoidable biases.

With an algorithm, even one taught by humans, it gets a lot murkier. Obviously, that doesn’t mean we should abandon Facebook or other social networks. It’s just a good reminder that are powerful forces behind the scenes of what we see online.

 

About the author:
Tara Saylor Litzenberger is a communications manager by day, grad student by night and curious all the time. She is also a web nerd and recovering copywriter. Tara focuses on the channels that enable communication and using metrics to improve communication effectiveness. She tweets about communication and combines as @AnokheeTara.


Hate the rainbow?

May 13, 2016 - Posted by Comments Off on Hate the rainbow?

This week, Instagram rolled out changes:

  • There’s the “the simpler design puts more focus on your photos and videos without changing how you navigate the app.”Sometimes change is hard...
  • There’s the desire to reflect the “global community of interests sharing more than 80 million photos and videos every day.”

But mostly, there’s the new logo – and the inevitable internet outrage.

Adweek calls it a travesty. The New York Times reporters deemed it “passable, if a little generic.” The Guardian described it “As if the camera was murdered, and chalk was drawn around its body. Murdered at sundown.” Users demanded that they change it back (and get rid of the algorithm too!)

Overall, the new design reflects the overall trend toward flat design.  It also ties Instagram to the other apps in the family, Boomerang, Hyperlapse and Layout.

You can get a behind-the-scenes look at the design process in this Medium post from Ian Spalter, the head of design.

So tell us – what do you think about Instagram’s forage into the new frontier? Is the backlash warranted?

 

About the author:
Tara Saylor Litzenberger is a communications manager by day, grad student by night and curious all the time. She is also a web nerd and recovering copywriter. Tara focuses on the channels that enable communication and using metrics to improve communication effectiveness. She tweets about communication and combines as @AnokheeTara.


Too little, too late?

May 11, 2016 - Posted by Comments Off on Too little, too late?

It’s Twitter’s turn to dominate the headlines, at least for a day or two, with the announcement that users can now report multiple tweets in a single report.  This is a long-requested improvement, as Twitter has earned a reputation as one of the less-I'd like to add you to my professional network.friendly mainstream networks.

Good news, right? Well, it was served up with the news that company revenue is down, and the tech press is circling like gleeful buzzards. This isn’t new- both The New Yorker and The Atlantic had time to publish despairing essays. And let’s not forget the doom-filled predictions around the launch of the algorithmic timeline (although only 2 percent of users cared enough to reset their accounts to the timeline view).

I’d like to add you to my professional network
In contrast to the doom-and-gloom coverage of Twitter, there’s more positive coverage of…. LinkedIn? Apparently, it’s not just a site for self-promotion disguised as news. There’s a new-ish app aimed at college students, a focus on recruiting, and the freelancer ProFinder.

It’s still a site known for more noise than signal. Even the Harvard Business Review is questioning exactly how useful LinkedIn connections are. They’re apparently adding two new members per second (although only 25 percent of them may use the site each month).

Then there’s the hand wringing about the invasion of the memes. This isn’t Facebook, people!

Because no update is complete without mentioning Facebook
Twitter may have scored a deal with the NFL, but the battle for sports-watching users is far from settled.  National Women’s Soccer League player Alex Morgan live-streamed the Orlando Pride season opener on Facebook, and SnapChat will be working with NBC on the 2016 Summer Games.

 

About the author:
Tara Saylor Litzenberger is a communications manager by day, grad student by night and curious all the time. She is also a web nerd and recovering copywriter. Tara focuses on the channels that enable communication and using metrics to improve communication effectiveness. She tweets about communication and combines as @AnokheeTara.


Bots, Blackface and Brands Behaving Badly

April 25, 2016 - Posted by Comments Off on Bots, Blackface and Brands Behaving Badly

The crowds may have gone home, but the dust is still settling from Facebook’s F8 Developer Conference.  The conversation is still all about bots. The Washington Post is ready for them to start chipping away at the $50 billion app store economy. After all, no one will download a stand-alone app when you can just text a bot through Messenger, right?

Not so fast, counters The Verge. Bot are slow! We want answers now, not in the minutes that it currently takes to get a response. Widespread adoption will require convenience AND speed. Response time for email may be about 90 minutes, but response time for messaging apps needs to be closer to 90 seconds.

Bot or….Not?Messenger Bots
There’s another catch in the whole bots-are-hot argument: Many of the bots aren’t just the clever computer program we imagine. Behind the scenes, many bots are still powered by humans who provide a combination of artificial intelligence (AI) training and quality control. AI is getting better with simple tasks, but it still hasn’t quite figured out the nuances of human language.

Just ask Microsoft what happens when you don't have a good plan in place to teach it….

Judgment Impaired
Snapchat may have just edged out Instagram as teens’ platform of choice, but two recent filters show that their decision-making may not be maturing quite so quickly.  Under the influence of….something… Snapchat teamed up with the Bob Marley estate to create a filter to celebrate 420.  While the hat and dreadlocks were enough to raise eyebrows, the fact that it gave users black skin did not go over well. At all.

It’s All AboutGrape Soda Prince Memorial
Music legend Prince died on April 21, and with the news came the predictable onslaught of brands making it all about them. Some posts were heartfelt and moving, like Chevy’s lyrical tribute.  Others had a genuine connection, like the Xcel Energy Center and other Minnesotans.

But here’s the thing: If no one associated you with a celebrity the day before he died, it’s not a good time to start building that connection, no matter how much he meant to your creative director. (We’re looking at you, Cheerios and Four Loko.)

 

About the author:
Tara Saylor Litzenberger is a communications manager by day, grad student by night and curious all the time. She is also a web nerd and recovering copywriter. Tara focuses on the channels that enable communication and using metrics to improve communication effectiveness. She tweets about communication and combines as @AnokheeTara.


Let’s talk about Facebook: The good, the bad and the bots

April 15, 2016 - Posted by Comments Off on Let’s talk about Facebook: The good, the bad and the bots

The Good
This week, Facebook announced updates to its live streaming service. Live video isn’t new for Facebook—celebrities have been streaming since last summer and it started rolling out for regular profiles not long after. Wednesday’s announcement brings a new level of interactivity to the stream, allowing viewers to react real time.Facebook F8 Conference

If more interactive video makes you think of SnapChat’s recent release, remember that Facebook isn’t just about sharing bridging the virtual distance between friends.  They’re luring in publishers and making sure video is hard to miss in your news feed. And they’ve got 1.9 billion users ready to tune it, right?

Well… kind of. Publishers are still on the fence about it all, and let’s not forget that autoplay can make viewer numbers look better than they are. Plus, there’s plenty of competition for attention, both from newer apps like SnapChat and established players like YouTube and Twitter, who just won the rights to Thursday Night Football.

The Bad
While we’re being cynical, let’s not forget the other bit of Facebook news that has everyone talking. According to an article in The Information (paid subscription) Facebook employees discovered that while people are still sharing plenty, but very little of it is original content. With everyone from your high school classmates to your coworkers on Facebook, users are opting to put Hold on to your buttstheir personal posts, well, somewhere more personal.

Watching all that user engagement (and associated page views) slip away has Facebook nervous. They’re hatching a plan to woo us back, one status update at a time.

And for all of the brands creating the content that’s currently dominating our feeds? To borrow some advice from Samuel L. Jackson, “Hold on to your butts.” We’re likely to see adjustments to timelines as Facebook tries to recapture the magic, like the major shift in the branded content policy.

The Bots
Facebook Messenger and bots were the big, big focus at the Facebook F8 conference. Chatbots aren’t new, but they’re getting better at handling routine tasks. Facebook thinks that soon, instead of opening a new app for each task, you’ll be able to do everything from order flowers to get the news just by sending a message.Facebook Live Map

Facebook isn’t alone in their bot love. Messaging app Kik announced a new BotShop, which integrates automated messages from companies like Sephora, H&M and Vine into the platform. NBC News partnered up with LINE, a chat app based in Japan. Google, Slack and Microsoft are all eyeing bots are the new hotness (botness?).

Heck, even Taco Bell is in on the action. Bots don’t get more Mas than that.

 

About the author:
Tara Saylor Litzenberger is a communications manager by day, grad student by night and curious all the time. She is also a web nerd and recovering copywriter. Tara focuses on the channels that enable communication and using metrics to improve communication effectiveness. She tweets about communication and combines as @AnokheeTara.


Make Videos like a Big Brand – on a Small Brand Budget

March 14, 2016 - Posted by Comments Off on Make Videos like a Big Brand – on a Small Brand Budget

DEK: If you think video is an impossible goal for your brand, you’re wrong. Here’s why.

I was walking down Park Avenue in New York, just a few blocks from Grand Central Terminal, when I saw a gaggle of teen girls sprinting toward an even larger gaggle of teen girls.

I figured somewhere in the center of that gaggle, gasping for air and clawing for an escape was someone like Justin Bieber, Nick Jonas or Zayn Malik. I hung on the fringes and asked one of the few girls who weren’t sobbing with joy who they were all clamoring to see.

“OMG. It’s Shawn Mendes,” she said. “He is HUGE on Vine.”

This is what I love about social media, the fact that anyone—even a 16-year-old singing cover songs—can become HUGE. In this way, social media has become a great equalizer. It espouses the idea that if you work hard and put in the time, you can make it to the big leagues. You (or your brand) could become HUGE.

After social platforms democratized the sharing side of publishing, brands began looking for makers and marketers who could create high-quality content. Everyone started a blog, claimed their handles, and became their own news and information network.

Although there are tons of tools available to make it easier to produce quality content, from free design tools like Canva to blog idea generators like the one on HubSpot, some types of content still seem unattainable and confusing.

Even though more than half of our time spent online is spent watching videos, only one in 10 small brands is producing its own original video (That jumps to one in four for large brands).

Knowing that videos are shared 1200 percent more than text and that visitors stay on sites with video 88 percent longer, not producing original video content is a huge lost opportunity for growth.

The most common excuses I hear are:

  1. Video is expensive.
  2. It must be perfect to be effective.
  3. Producing your own videos is super time-consuming.

I wrote an entire post debunking these myths, but there’s one excuse I’ve been hearing more and more often as I work with larger brands: I don’t want to be on camera.

Although there are tons of benefits to being on camera, from increased trust from your audience to improved brand recognition, there are tons of brands that are producing original video quickly and cheaply without ever showing a face on camera.

One of my own favorites is Google.

Google Video Nat and Lo

Their videos are so simple yet so effective. And oh-so-possible for even the smallest brands to reproduce.

Google Video Security

Join me April 6 to learn how to produce videos like Google, from animated videos to whiteboard videos, using your smartphone and a handful of handy apps.

Stop making excuses and start making videos.

In the meantime, master the basics of shooting video on your smartphone with this free cheat sheet.

 

About The Author
Sarah Redohl is the chief creative strategist of StoryLab, based in Columbia, Missouri. StoryLab aims to bring the power of digital storytelling to everyone through the use of smartphones and tablets through custom training sessions and online courses.

Past clients include the American Society of Business Press Editors, and professionals from Oracle and The Economist, among others. StoryLab also participates in a journalism collaboration that aims to bring the power of storytelling to nonprofit agencies in developing countries where stories might otherwise go untold.

Since 2013, Redohl has taught multimedia and mobile journalism at her alma mater, the Missouri School of Journalism. Previously, she has worked on projects for the Travel Channel, NPR and the U.S. Department of State, among others. Redohl has won both regional and national awards for her visual storytelling, and has been recognized as one of Folio Magazine’s 15 Under 30 young professionals driving media’s next-gen innovation.


Membership has its privileges

January 5, 2016 - Posted by Comments Off on Membership has its privileges

Tara Coomans, Social Media Club national co-membership chair provided us with more on what being a member means to her:

Social Media Club was founded before there was an Instagram, a Snapchat or Google+. In digital world terms, we’re OG.

Social Media Club (SMC) was founded in San Francisco by Kristie Wells and Chris Huere because they saw a need for an professional organization which provided guidance to those working in the then-wild west of social media.

In the spirit of social media, the organization they founded was open to all and designed to help everyone who participated in social media spread the “If You Get It, Share It,” ideal.

Today, Social Media Club is the only global 100 percent volunteer-run professional organization in the world. There are over 300 active chapters globally, each with their own personality and voice designed to serve their local community.Members Only Representing Very Important Person And Membership Card

I joined SMC in 2009, since then, I have been a member of two different chapters, served as Chapter President and the Global Board of Directors as Membership Chair. As an SMC member,  I’ve had a chance to meet people around the world, both in person and online. As an SMC leader, never once have I ever picked up the phone or sent an email to a thought-leader and had it ignored. As an SMC leader, I’ve both been mentored and mentored others in leadership, social media and digital media. As important as these types of connections can be, I’ve found the members of the chapters to be the pure gold of my membership. No matter what city I’m in, I’m not a stranger. This is why I became Membership Chair.

In 2016, SMC membership will be expanding more ways for you to connect, share your voice and grow as a social and digital leader. We’ll be offering member-only digital events with industry leaders, archived for members-only. We’ll be building an additional way for members to engage on the new SMC website including blogging and community opportunities. If you’re looking to grow your social presence, your community impact and your connections, there is no better place to do it online.

While SMC continues to evolve its membership benefits globally, and chapters like Kansas City continue to offer benefits to members, for me, it’s never been about the laundry list of “benefits.” For me, it’s always been about the people.

People who have become partners, collaborators and yes, friends.  People who “get it” when I share it. People who I can share a laugh with when yet another “promise from Mark Zuckerberg” rears its ugly head on Facebook. People who “fill out my corners” and help me out whether I need a referral, and idea or a resources. It’s the people. Around the world. It’s my SMC family.

How do I put a value on these relationships? I can’t. I think it was Gary Vaynerchuck who famously asked “What’s the value of your Mother?” with respect to the value of social media, well, that’s how I feel about Social Media Club.

So when people ask me why I joined or why they should join, my question is usually: what are you looking to get out of it?

Because SMC has “benefits,” but it’s my experience that people value relationships more and SMC is a great way to build, enhance and develop relationships. If you’re not looking for trusted collaborators, mentors, partners, or to develop your own thought-leadership then SMC probably isn’t for you. And that’s OK.

We’re cool with growing with the right people. Who get it and share it with each other.

About the author:
Tara Coomans (@taracoomans) is the co-membership chair for Social Media Club. Tara served two terms as the first elected president of the Hawaii Chapter of Social Media Club and remains active on the Board of Directors. She is a professional communications and marketing strategist. Tara specializes in helping companies identify and integrate today’s digital marketing and communication strategies into marketing, PR and customer service.