Creator Weekly: Instagram Algorithm, WordPress Newsletters, News media on Social media
Happy June! New this week: Instagram ranking algorithms, social media vs news media, paid Newsletters on WordPress.com, updates for YouTubers, web publishers & more.
Creator Weekly Live
Join me on Sunday for a live recap of this week’s top updates! It’s live at 10:30AM Pacific time (5:30 UTC). Set a reminder or join on YouTube here.
What do you think of this week’s updates? Join the live chat.
Chat about Blogging
I’m hosting this week’s #OnEBoardChat on Twitter on Sunday immediately after Creator Weekly Live (11AM Pacific time).
The topic is blogging and these will be the discussion questions:
Q1: What are important features for blogging or for following blogs?
Q2: Where and how do you read blogs?
Q3: What kinds of topics are good for blogging?
The discussion is open to everyone whether you are a blogger, a blog reader, or are just interested in the topic.
News Media versus Social Media
How valuable is news to Facebook, Instagram, Google and other tech platforms? And how valuable are those platforms to news organizations?
Canada’s Online News Act (Bill C-18) would require tech companies like Meta and Google to compensate news organizations for their content that appears on their platform. Meta is already testing limiting viewing and sharing news content by Canadian users on Facebook and Instagram in anticipation of the bill being passed. Google is also testing “varying amounts” of news links in the Search results for Canadian users.
Canada’s Bill C-18 is just one of many “protect the news media” laws being contemplated by governments around the world. The California Assembly passed a similar bill just this week. And Meta says their response will be to remove news from Facebook and Instagram. (Google hasn’t responded to this yet.).
While I think local news should be supported, I am not sure these initiatives will help.
So it comes back around to the question of whether including local news links is a benefit to these platforms, and how much local news organizations benefit from those links. Maybe they don’t really need each other all that much.
But I think a side effect could be that because people will want to talk about the news anyway, the big platforms removing news links could boost the visibility of small news sites and blogs (which could be more or less reliable). If these new laws pass I guess I’ll find out.
Instagram’s Ranking Algorithms Explained?
Instagram CEO Adam Mosseri published a detailed overview of how ranking works for the Feed, Stories, Explore, and Reels.
If you are an Instagram user, it’s worth reading the entire article.
But I wanted to highlight Mosseri’s suggestions for improving what you see on the site.
Instagram takes into account your relationship and history with the person who posted the content, as well as your activity.
Add accounts to your Favorites to see their posts ranked higher in your Feed. You can also view the “Following” or “Favorites” feed (tap the Instagram logo at the top left in the app).
You can snooze suggested posts for 30 days. Instructions here.
Mute people whose content you are not interested in seeing and you aren’t ready to unfollow.
Indicate “Not Interested” on a recommended post to improve your recommendations.
Tap the 3 dot menu icon on the top right of any post or ad and select the “Why you are seeing this” option in the menu to find out why the post is in your feed.
Instagram is also building tools and testing notifications that help creators understand why the reach of their content may have been limited (tip: don’t upload Reels with a watermark from another platform).
YouTube and Video
If you watch YouTube live streams on your mobile device, you can now add live emoji reactions. This will be available on desktop “soon”. The emoji are anonymous (and all positive), so go wild 🎉 💯 😀. If you hate the idea, you can turn off emoji reactions on your own live streams.
With the 2024 US Presidential election season getting underway, YouTube has updated their election misinformation policy. Mostly it’s not changing. They will still ensure “authoritative sources” are emphasized in search results and recommendations. And it’s still not allowed to post misleading content about the voting process, discourage people from voting or encourage others to “interfere with democratic processes”.
What’s new is that now content that claims there was fraud or false results in the 2020 election is allowed. Why? YouTube says they “find that while removing this content does curb some misinformation, it could also have the unintended effect of curtailing political speech without meaningfully reducing the risk of violence or other real-world harm.”
Does demonetization of your YouTube video cause it to stop being recommended or lose views? YouTube Liaison Rich Richie says no. But, “both ads and discovery can independently look at the same signals and feel a video is not appropriate for all audiences.”
YouTube now supports live streaming with 5.1 surround sound audio. If that fits your content you can find the instructions on how to set it up here. Surround sound may be available on your TV.
If you are a BTS fan, check out how TikTok is celebrating #10yrsWithBTS. A clip from your video could be added to a celebratory compilation.
Google recently added site names in Search results at the subdomain level. Site names show above the link in the Google Search results. John Mueller and Danny Sullivan have posted a FAQ in the Google Search Console help community. Google has instructions for adding structured data to your site to tell Google what name to use (and you may need to do this if just your domain shows). If you are having trouble you can reply to the FAQ post. Working on this is on my to-do list!
WordPress.com Newsletter now lets you add paid subscriptions and premium content. You can create a Newsletter from scratch or add a Newsletter to your existing site. This is available even with the Free WordPress.com plan.
I’ve been playing with the Google Search Generative Experience (sign up here) and my first impression is that it’s really not very good for fact (rather than opinion) searches. See my annotated examples here. The problem seems to be that it always highlights 3 sites (which may not be the best sites) and mashes together information from all of them (sometimes plagiarizing). If there is really only one definitive site, or the selected sites are outdated or low quality, incorrect information can be added. The responses are also both wordy and incomplete. Definitely still a work in progress.
Twitter had another eventful week. Ella Irwin, head of trust and safety resigned, as did A.J. Brown, head of brand safety and ad quality. They didn’t explain why, but it could be related to Twitter owner Elon Musk overriding policy decisions on whim.
Earlier this week the creator of a right-wing-culture-war-anti-trans-people movie complained that its reach was limited because it violated Twitter’s hateful content policies. Musk directly intervened to make sure its reach was not restricted (even though ads are limited) and promoted the movie by sharing a link and tweeting about it a bunch of times. Twitter also withdrew as a signatory on the voluntary EU Code of Practice on Disinformation, and it’s not clear if that will affect the content policies.
Reddit’s new API pricing is so expensive it may put 3rd party apps like Apollo and RIF out of business. While only a small percentage of Reddit users use the apps, those users are more likely to be power users or subreddit moderators, so there is a lot of vocal outrage. Will those people continue to use Reddit? I suspect yes, many will, but it may still affect community moderation.
Visual Generative AI
Google Bard will now bring in images from Google Search for responses with visuals. A source for each image is included. Also new: allow Bard to access your device’s precise location for more personalized responses. All the Google Bard updates.
Bing’s chatbot will now show more visual results for travel queries and the Bing Image Creator is now available in all chant modes. All the Bing Chat updates.
Photopea, the free web-based Photoshop alternative, has a new “Magic Replace” tool that lets you replace part of an image or extend your image to make it bigger.
Snapchat’s MyAI can now respond to photo Snaps with related generated images.
Google Meet has a new “Viewer Mode” for meeting participants. Viewers will be able to participate in Polls and Q&A (and coming in the future, in-meeting chat and emoji reactions). The meeting host can set “everyone is a viewer” when sending a Calendar invite, and then in the meeting move active participants to “contributor” status. It will allow Enterprise Plus users to have meetings with 1000 attendees, as long as at least 500 are “viewers”. This is rolling out to select Google Workspace Editions over the next few weeks.
Google Chat Spaces with individual conversation topics will be converted to in-line threaded Spaces later this year. Google provided more details about that transition.
Google Chat is also going to “declutter” by hiding Chats and Spaces that have not had activity for 7 days. You will be able to see those older conversations by clicking “More” at the bottom of the list. This will not affect pinned Spaces or Chats.
Google is using machine learning to provide better search results in the Gmail mobile app.
Microsoft Teams has a number of updates, including 3D customizable cartoon avatars for those meetings where you don’t want to be on camera, and a very useful sounding meeting recap experience where you can watch the meeting recording, get the transcript and meeting notes and other information all within Teams. Learn more about the updates.
The Internet Archive now has a copy of the USC (University of Southern California) Sound Effects Library. These sounds were originally recorded and used by Hollywood studios in the 1930s and 40s, with a few more recent recordings into the 1980s. Originally recorded on magnetic tape, you can now listen to them in the archive, or download the files (most have a CC0-public domain license). And yes, it includes the original recording of the famous Wilhelm Scream. You can find the collection here.