Let’s consider an imaginary scenario.

You wake up one day and realize that all social media platforms are non-functional that day. Bewildered, you check your phone and open the Instagram app. It shows a blank white screen. You try opening facebook.com on your browser and nothing happens. Snapchat, Twitter, Linked In, and Pinterest are down too.

People around you cannot communicate with one another like they used to. The younger population that grew up with the internet is losing their minds. The most followed influencers are unable to reach their audience. Marketing teams are struggling to find a replacement for their online ads.

All in all, chaos would ensue and the market would collapse. And it would only take 1 day of no social media to cause such hue and cry.

A little over a decade ago, social media was only getting started. Today, we cannot live without it. Crazy, right?

Every disruptive invention follows the same trajectory. Take, for example, cars, electricity, or cellphones. For hundreds of years, humanity managed to live one way and an innovation entered the market to introduce a comfort that slowly turned into a necessity. And such leaps occur all the time. Just like we evolve genetically, we also evolve technologically, albeit in an offbeat way.

The advent of social media is among the most recent(on the human civilization scale) of such disruptions. It has taken the world and its population by storm. If you’re not on any of the social media platforms today, people will put up a confused expression and ask you, “Why?” And, back in their heads, they’re also wondering, “What’s wrong with him/her?”

Therefore, participating on the different social media platforms is no longer a privilege, but a mandate. If you stay away from them you lose many of the advantages they offer. That said, does social media offer benefits and benefits alone? Not at all. These platforms also come with a dark side which can damage you in very many ways.

But, social media platforms cannot be classified as good or bad. What makes them helpful or harmful is your usage of them.

In this article, we’ll explore both the pros and cons of social media.

13 Pros of social media

The advantages of social media are well known. Here are 13 pros of social media platforms.

1. Faster connectivity

You can connect with anyone located anywhere on the globe by clicking a few buttons. To make that better, you don’t even need a computer or a fixed-line internet connection anymore. You can pull out your phone and send a message to both knowns and unknowns with one hand while you munch on a slice of pizza with the other.

2. Saves the trouble of setting face to face meetings

Back in the day, if you’d to schedule a meeting with an unknown person with whom you had no rapport, you had to knock on several doors and wait for several days before the interaction happened(if at all).

Today, you can send a connection request to anyone in a few minutes. Sure, the outcome depends on how well you manage to make an impression, but the previous roadblocks of physical familiarity don’t exist anymore.

3. Faster communication

If you have to gather 10 people to party on a Saturday night, you need to send one single message in a group. Imagine calling those many people on a landline, finding them home, and co-ordinating a time. Phew, I broke a sweat while I thought about it. God forbid if you had to change plans last minute.

4. Opportunity to build visibility for yourself

Social media provides you with a platform to make a name for yourself.

If you’re a writer, you can self-publish on Amazon today. Compare that with sending your manuscript to hundreds of publishers. If you’re a musician, you can open a Youtube channel. Compare that with finding a music director willing to launch you.

Though the internet has created more competition, you can independently make a name for yourself with a pinch of hard work and a sprinkle of talent. 

5. Brings change

Any event that occurs over the globe spreads like wildfire. Events such as corruption, poor customer service, unnecessary arrogance come into the limelight. You don’t even need a media team to cover the story on their channel or website.

People capture videos and post them online to expose the reality to millions of people. Brands are concerned about providing better service to avoid a bad review while a corrupt government official knows that a video of him accepting a bribe means a death sentence to his profession.

Though such problems are still prevalent, social media makes people more mindful of their actions.

6. Quicker feedback

Want to know feedback about an unknown service or a product? You can read what other users have to say using the reviews.

Looking for recommendations on the things to do on your backpacking trip? Find a Facebook group and many will provide suggestions at no cost.

Yes, you receive pointers from a person you’ve never met about a product you’ve never used, yet, you know you can follow the guidance.

7. Social Groups

No matter what your area of interest is, you can find like-minded people on social media. Facebook has groups for everything you can think of. Not every single one of them is active, but with a little effort, you can find an engaged community to exchange your thoughts. Without social media, you’d struggle to find a handful of people in your vicinity who share the same interests as you.

8. Job seekers find opportunities

A decade ago finding a job required a candidate to check newspapers and hoardings, carry a file folder to an office and wait in the queue for an interview.

Today, you can apply for a prestigious job right at your desk. If that wasn’t enough, recruiters themselves reach out to you if you have an influential presence on LinkedIn.

9. News propagates fast

Newspapers and television have served as the source of news for decades now. Since the advent of social media, they’re losing their audience. Social media offers different modes of internet communication and an insane speed of propagation.

You no longer need to find the news. The news will find you.

10. Businesses reach out to the right audience

For business, the traditional sources of advertising were large ads in the newspaper, hiring a brand ambassador agency, an engaging TV commercial, or a hoarding on a busy street. Such forms of marketing relied on reaching a large number of people, hoping it would catch the intended audience’s attention and thereby convert into a sale.

Social media transformed that approach on its head. If you run ads on Facebook today, with the right targeting, you can reach only those who are genuinely interested in what you have to offer. It doesn’t matter what you’re selling, be it an antique clock from a haunted house or a Persian rug from Aladin’s era.

11. Crowdsourcing

Crowdsourcing is a sourcing model where individuals obtain goods and services from a large pool of participants. The method has a widescale implementation for different purposes and among them, raising capital for a business idea stands out the most. Crowdsourcing banks on social media platforms to put forth the idea to a larger audience.

Many entrepreneurs have raised capital using crowdfunding websites such as Kickstarter and Indiegogo. For example, Oculus took life after raising 250,000$ from Kickstarter before Facebook acquired the company for a whopping 2 billion dollars a few years later.

12. Faster propagation during a crisis

Due to the speed at which information spreads over social media, you can hear about any crisis faster than ever. When a natural calamity occurs, Facebook offers an option to mark yourself safe. A simple click will avoid your loved ones having an anxiety attack.

13. Having fun

Spending time on social media helps you enjoy in little ways. You can share an update on your wall, tag your friends to capture their attention, crack a joke over your sibling’s picture, and whatnot. Are all these activities productive? Not quite. But are they fun? For sure.

13 Cons of social media:

Though social media has taken the world a step forward, it has also caused many hassles which never existed before. If you allow these apps to control you, they can have negative consequences. Here are 13 disadvantages of social media.

1. Addiction

All social media platforms have a large team whose only focus is to ensure users like you and me repeatedly use the platform. Therefore, once you engage on one such website or app, you feel the urge to come back again and again.

Have you noticed yourself opening your social media newsfeed and scrolling through for no reason? That’s what Instagram and Facebook can do to you.

2. Kills productivity

With the number of apps in the market today, your phone will throw a bazillion notifications every day. Even if a person whom you’ve never met likes your picture on Instagram or a fake profile swipes you right on tinder, your phone beeps to tell you, “Look, something interesting is happening. Check me right now.”

By itself, every notification seems like a small distraction, but little by little, one after another, they consume your time and destroy your productivity without your knowledge. 

3. Shows only the good side

Do you find your friend posting a story about a bad day they had? Or do you find your coworker sharing a picture about a cheap restaurant he/she visited?

Do you post such updates yourself? Heck, no. Such updates rarely occur, if at all.

On social media, everyone wants to portray only their expensive, interesting, or glorious moments. Call it passive showboating or humblebrag, the updates from people scream, “Look, I’m doing this and I want you to know.”

Such behavior causes low esteem where you start to wonder if you’re living a miserable life while others are having fun. Therefore, next time you find an opportunity, you post a delightful event from your life thereby adding to the already existing pile. You want to pass a message that you’re enjoying in life too, but little do you know that a friend who looked at your picture considers your life amazing.

All in all, it’s a vicious circle where everyone thinks their life is miserable while their friends’ life is fascinating. I know people who go out just to post an update on social media.

4. Unreliable information

The Abraham Lincoln meme conveys how questionable the authenticity of information on the internet is.

For those who did not understand the joke, Abraham Lincoln died in 1895, long before the internet came into existence.

Due to the speed of propagation and the negligence of people to verify authenticity, tons of fake information floats on the internet. To make that worse, when you try to look it up, you’ll find many websites mentioning the same information and you assume multiple sources cannot be wrong. But many a time, all of them have only broadcasted what they found without performing any due diligence.

5. Tells one side of the story

Due to the virality of social platforms and the gullibility of people to trust any random person’s word, one-sided stories create a furor on the internet.

For example, in 2015, a lady put up a social media post complaining about eve-teasing from a biker on the street. Millions of people supported her cause without verifying her claims and the post received 100K shares in no time. TV news channels called the guy a pervert while politicians and celebrities lauded the lady for her bravery. The police arrested the “alleged harasser” who even lost his job. No one tried to hear his side of the story.

The truth was that the two of them had a minor disagreement about a traffic signal. The lady had an incorrect understanding of the traffic rules and the guy had pointed that to her without any harassment involved. The lady had twisted the facts on her Facebook post.

An eyewitness defended the guy’s side and mentioned how the lady had used abusive words and misbehaved on the street. The court ruled in favor of the guy and asked the media channel to issue a public apology. 

On social media, people jump to conclusions without any attempt to unearth the reality of both sides.

6. Creates false expectations

The likes and comments on social media do not always translate to real-life praises. Teens who grew up in the current generation have trouble facing the harsh reality in the real world.

For example, a motivational post about entrepreneurship will garner many upvotes, but it won’t ensure a successful business venture. Impressing the opposite sex in person is different from wooing a good-looking person on Tinder. Getting your way over group text messages doesn’t mean you can grab the attention of the audience over a presentation at work.

Social media provides a virtual experience of real-life and that causes damage on several occasions.

7. Privacy issues

Facebook knows a lot more about you than you think. In the highly-rated TV series Black Mirror, on one of the episodes, Smithereens, a person kidnaps the employee of a social media company as a method to get in touch with the owner.

Soon after the crime begins, the TV show depicts how the management team of the social media company knows more about the criminal than the FBI does. Though the series uses a dystopian future, it subtly shows how social media has changed the concept of privacy for the whole of humankind.

You have no control over how your information is stored and used. Many a time, even a status update or a picture you post reaches an unintended audience. Even among your followers and friends, you have no clue how people are judging you mentally.

If you’re on social media platforms, which I can bet you are, you have already divulged more about yourself than you wanted to.

8. You cannot delete your content entirely

Assume you posted a bold picture on social media one day. A few weeks later, when you look back, you feel you made a mistake. Therefore, you visit your profile and delete it off. But does that mean your picture no longer exists on the internet? I wish I could say yes, but unfortunately, no one can provide such assurance including the social media platform itself.

That’s because what’s posted on the internet propagates to other places against your choice. Different automated content scrapers are reading content round the clock. Or your friend can save the picture and send it to a large group on WhatsApp. A stranger can take a screenshot and post it on his blog. The scenarios are endless.

In the past, we’ve witnessed celebrities posting a controversial update or picture which receives a barrage of hate comments. But, even after they realize their mistake and delete their post, the backlash doesn’t subside. That’s because several people would have saved screenshots and different websites would have written articles about it already.

What you upload on the internet is no different than a new virus. Once it’s out in the open, you will never manage to get rid of it altogether.

9. Sales targeting

Have you noticed the creepy behavior followed by online ads? Once you look for an item on an e-commerce website, all of a sudden you notice ads about related products all over your browser on various websites you visit.

Online ad platforms allow marketers to target ads to people who show interest in their product. Such flexibility serves the advertisers dual benefits. One, their advertising expense remains low because only the intended audience sees the ad. Two, a person who has shown interest has a higher chance of converting into a sale.

If that doesn’t raise your eyebrows, Amazon’s approach of anticipatory shipping will. Amazon uses a mixture of their logistics skills and data analysis process to figure out your needs. In short, Amazon knows what you want to buy before you buy it. So, it wouldn’t be incorrect to say Amazon knows what you will buy before even you do.

10. Causes mental fatigue

Using social media between tedious work hours appears to provide solace, but it only exhausts your mind even further. When you’re scrolling through your newsfeed, you make many little decisions without your knowledge.

Your brain runs on alert mode with thoughts like, “Should I click on this post? Does this picture deserve alike? What is a suitable reply to this comment?” All those decisions consume mental energy.

As a result, if you use social media during your breaks assuming it’ll help you de-stress, you’ve got it wrong.

11. Transformed face to face conversations

A family which used to have dinner as a group together now eats their meal with cutlery in one hand and a phone in the other. Eye to eye contact has changed into half-lowered heads engrossed in the phone. Social media has caused the human connection to drift apart.

Such behavior does not apply to family relationships alone. Friends have arguments over texts and managers provide critical feedback over electronic mediums. Heck, some lovers have broken up on social media messengers too.

Because social media has made communications easier, people resort to them over other personalized interactions.

12. Damage to businesses

To buy an item on Amazon, you read the reviews first or at the very least check the overall rating. Anything below a 4 star becomes a mental filter for rejection. The same applies to the restaurants you visit or the books you read.

Though social proof has powerful benefits, bad reviews can hurt a business. A disgruntled customer can leave a poor review even if the business did nothing wrong. In rare cases, companies have left fake poor reviews on their competitors as a strategy to acquire customers.

Since the reviews on the internet are not moderated, incorrect reviews can spell disaster for a business.

13. Fraud and scam

Due to the social media reach, fraudsters loom large in every nook and corner. If you’re not careful, they will pounce right on you.

Scammers use public feeds to gain knowledge, the chat medium to make a connection, and finally use the information for an unauthorized transaction.

Take for example the following conversation:

Phone operator: “Hello Philippe, you had visited Honda Motors last week and you’ve won the lucky draw for a new Honda CR-V”.

Poor victim: “Really, that’s amazing. I have never won anything in a raffle before.”

Phone operator: “We’re thrilled ourselves. We’ll need a few details to have the car ready for you. Can I know your date of birth and the full name of your spouse please?”

And the conversation follows where the fraudster learns more information about the victim which can be used to change the password of their banking account or guess the pin.

If you’re gullible on the internet, you’re doomed.


Social media has catapulted technology and taken the world forward. As a platform itself, you cannot hold it entirely accountable for the damage it causes people.

Social media is no different than liquor. If you use it in moderation, you’ll relish the good time. But, if you need a dose every few hours, you have a problem. Sure, you can pin the blame on the alcohol, but the truth is that the addiction is your doing. Similarly, whether social media helps you or hurts you depends on how you choose to use it.

[Source: This article was published in productiveclub.com By Maxim Dsouza - Uploaded by the Association Member: Logan Hochstetler]

Looking to get a better understanding of the Instagram algorithm, and how it decides what content to show each individual user - and how you can use that to your own advantage?

You're in luck - this week, as part of its Creator Week event, Instagram is providing some extra insight into its internal processes via series of explainers, with the first focused on the infamous feed algorithm, and how it actually dictates content reach in the app.

As explained by Instagram:

"We want to do a better job of explaining how Instagram works. There are a lot of misconceptions out there, and we recognize that we can do more to help people understand what we do. Today, we’re sharing the first in a series of posts that will shed more light on how Instagram’s technology works and how it impacts the experiences that people have across the app."

The post covers a range of key elements that can help to facilitate more understanding and improve your planning in the app. Here's a look at the key points.

There's no one, all-encompassing algorithm

Instagram first notes that its processes are not defined by a single algorithm, so the idea of 'the algorithm' as such is slightly flawed.

"Instagram doesn’t have one algorithm that oversees what people do and don’t see on the app. We use a variety of algorithms, classifiers, and processes, each with its own purpose. We want to make the most of your time, and we believe that using technology to personalize your experience is the best way to do that."

Instagram explains that, like Facebook, it implemented an algorithm because the flow of content became too much for each user to navigate.

"By 2016, people were missing 70% of all their posts in Feed, including almost half of posts from their close connections. So we developed and introduced a Feed that ranked posts based on what you care about most."

This is why the focus of its feed and Stories algorithms is generally on friends, while Explore and Reels look to uncover more relevant topics based on trends, interests, etc.

Key signals

Instagram says that its algorithms all use key signals, with those signals varying dependent on each element.

Instagram notes that there are "thousands" of signals that its systems can draw from, but for the most part, the main indicators across Feed and Stories, in order of importance, are:

  • Information about the post - These are signals both about how popular a post is – think how many people have liked it – and more mundane information about the content itself, like when it was posted, how long it is if it’s a video, and what location, if any, was attached to it.
  • Information about the person who posted - This helps us get a sense of how interesting the person might be to you, and includes signals like how many times people have interacted with that person in the past few weeks.
  • Your activity - This helps us understand what you might be interested in and includes signals such as how many posts you’ve liked.
  • Your history of interacting with someone - This gives us a sense of how interested you are generally in seeing posts from a particular person. An example is whether or not you comment on each other’s posts.

These are the general algorithm identifiers, similar to Facebook's News Feed, with the key elements being what types of posts you engage with and your relationship to the creator of each.

If you engage with video more often, you'll see more video, if the post is getting a lot of engagement, you're more likely to see it, if you tap Like on a certain post, that's a strong indicator of interest, etc.

Worth noting here that these elements apply to both the main feed and your stories, so if you're looking to maximize reach in these surfaces, these are the key elements that you need to focus on.

Furthering this, Instagram also notes that the feed ranking will also be based on each users' engagement history:

"In Feed, the five interactions we look at most closely are how likely you are to spend a few seconds on a post, comment on it, like it, save it, and tap on the profile photo. The more likely you are to take an action, and the more heavily we weigh that action, the higher up you’ll see the post."

Again, it comes down to incentivizing action - how can you maximize the appeal of your content to prompt these types of responses? That will help ensure more of your posts get priority for each user.

Ranking Explore

Instagram's discovery tab is a little different, with the Explore algorithm focused on showing you other content that you may like, based on who you follow and your engagement history.

"To find photos and videos you might be interested in, we look at signals like what posts you've liked, saved, and commented on in the past. Let’s say you’ve recently liked a number of photos from San Francisco’s dumpling chef Cathay Bi. We then look at who else likes Cathay’s photos, and then what other accounts those people are interested in. Maybe people who like Cathay are also into the SF dim sum spot Dragon Beaux. In that case, the next time you open Explore, we might show you a photo or video from Dragon Beaux. In practice, this means that if you’re interested in dumplings you might see posts about related topics, like gyoza and dim sum, without us necessarily understanding what each post is about."

So the idea here is that the algorithm will look to showcase content to related groups of people based on clusters - if you're regularly engaging with a profile that shares fishing content, then it's likely that other people who engage with the same are also looking at other fishing accounts, which you may also be interested in.

This is where hashtags can help improve discovery, by getting your account in front of people searching for certain topics. If they then engage with your posts, that increases your chances of being shown to their connections, and so on.

Like Feed and Stories, Instagram ranks the Explore listing based on how likely each user is to engage with each post.

"Once we’ve found a group of photos and videos you might be interested in, we then order them by how interested we think you are in each one, much like how we rank Feed and Stories. The best way to guess how interested you are in something is to predict how likely you are to do something with the post. The most important actions we predict in Explore include likes, saves, and shares."

Saves have become a more important consideration more recently, with some noting that Saves have more weight in algorithm distribution, which may or may not be correct. But certainly, it's an element that Instagram is now specifically noting, so it is worth considering how you can incentivize saves of your posts, as this can play a part in improving Explore exposure.

It's worth also noting too, that while the Explore feed is also ranked based on personal engagement elements (the types of post a user has engaged with, relationship with an account, etc.), how popular a post is, based on broader engagement signals, is a much bigger consideration in Explore, and will see content get more exposure in the Explore feed.

Ranking Reels

Instagram's latest algorithm-defined element is its TikTok-like Reels, for which it says the algorithm is "specifically focused on what might entertain you."

"We survey people and ask whether they find a particular reel entertaining or funny, and learn from the feedback to get better at working out what will entertain people, with an eye towards smaller creators. The most important predictions we make are how likely you are to watch a reel all the way through, like it, say it was entertaining or funny, and go to the audio page (a proxy for whether or not you might be inspired to make your own reel.)"

TikTok has almost perfected the most engaging version of the short video algorithm, with its system taking in the exact right signals to show you a constant stream of content that you can't help but keep scrolling through, based on trends, creators, the content of each clip, etc.

Instagram is now working to catch up, and anecdotally, it is improving, with its Reels display hooking into similar elements to make it a more sticky, engaging proposition for users who tap into the Reels feed.

For Reels, Instagram says that these are the four key elements of focus in its algorithm:

  • Your activity - We look at things like which reels you’ve liked, commented on, and engaged with recently. These signals help us to understand what content might be relevant to you.
  • Your history of interacting with the person who posted - Like in Explore, it’s likely the video was made by someone you’ve never heard of, but if you have interacted with them that gives us a sense of how interested you might be in what they shared.
  • Information about the reel - These are signals about the content within the video such as the audio track, video understanding based on pixels and whole frames, as well as popularity.
  • Information about the person who posted - We consider popularity to help find compelling content from a wide array of people and give everyone a chance to find their audience.

So content and creator popularity, overall, is a bigger factor for Reels, while it's also worth noting that Instagram will restrict the reach of Reels that include a TikTok watermark or similar, which it says is designed to improve the user experience (i.e. people criticized Reels as simply being a re-hashed feed of TikTok clips, so it now looks to stop such re-sharing).

These are some helpful pointers as to how Instagram's various algorithms work, and how it looks to showcase certain content to users - and what each creator should be focused on to improve their reach. Essentially, it comes down to audience understanding - doubling down on what works, and dropping what people don't respond to - in order to maximize these key elements, and boost engagement, first with your followers, then subsequently with wider audiences.

Some important notes to factor into your IG planning. You can read Instagram's full algorithm explainer, which also includes notes on Shadowbanning, here.

[Source: This article was published in socialmediatoday.com By Andrew Hutchinson - Uploaded by the Association Member: Dorothy Allen]

Published in Social

This may form part of the social media guidelines currently underway by the IT Ministry and could be out soon.

Social media platforms such as Facebook, WhatsApp, Instagram, Twitter, and TikTok may have to scramble for developing an account identity-verification option to check "fake news, malicious content, misinformation, racial slurs, gender abuse that may have an impact on the individual and society as a whole." This may form part of the social media guidelines currently underway by the IT Ministry and could be out soon. "The work is in progress, we have sent it to the Law Ministry for vetting," said a source.

The IT Ministry is learned to have finalized the social media guidelines to check misinformation, malicious info, and gender-biased views and have sent them to the Law Ministry for vetting it where account holder verification could be made mandatory.

The new draft personal data protection Bill has proposed social media intermediaries to enable "voluntary verification" of user accounts. The method for this, as suggested in the bill, is that these verified users should be given a demonstrable and visible mark of verification which is akin to biometric or physical identification which is publicly visible to all users.

If this is implemented, then this verification system would be different from the existing verified accounts category on platforms such as Instagram and Twitter.

The security check user account verification will be developed by the social media company.

Another major change that may come up is in the definition of the "significant data fiduciary" based on the volume of personal data they possess because there is a feeling that big or small, any incorrect or fake information through even a small social media platform has the potential to multiply the fake news irrespective of the volume of personal data it holds.

Therefore, there may be another layer included for those social media companies who don't have volumes of personal data, but they can affect the democratic nature of the country.

Under Section 26 of the 2019 Bill, certain thresholds in terms of volume of personal data processed, the sensitivity of personal data processed, risk of harm, etc are specified, upon satisfaction of which, the Data Protection Authority may notify a data fiduciary as a "significant data fiduciary" (social media companies).

This provision in the data privacy Bill is only applicable to "significant" social media platforms. The significant status of a company is determined by the Central government on the basis of the number of users and the potential impact that these companies can have on Indian democracy and the country's security and general harmony. But this may change, said sources.

A social media intermediary has been defined as a body that primarily or solely enables online interaction between two or more users and allows them to create, upload, share, disseminate, modify or access information using its services.

Earlier, there was a proposal to link social media accounts with Aadhaar to trail the real source of fake news, but the nodal agency for UIDAI shot down the proposal, saying Aadhaar is meant for the distribution of government welfare benefits not catching culprits which is a policing job.

IT Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad later said there is no proposal to link social media accounts of individuals to Aadhaar.

With the rise in fake news and hate speeches online, the need for verification of social media accounts has been felt for a while. This became even more pronounced following a series of lynching incidents over religious issues. Earlier this year, Facebook reported taking down 2.19 billion fake accounts in the first quarter of 2019, a significant hike from 1.2 bn accounts in Q4 of 2018.

[Source: This article was published in gadgets.ndtv.com  - Uploaded by the Association Member: James Gill]

Published in Internet Privacy

The process of getting your social media accounts verified is mysterious and extremely desirable. For those who don’t know, social media verification is when your account handle has a blue check next to it. You will see A-list celebrities, athletes, musicians, successful brands, and top social media personalities with the blue verified account checks. Simply put, the blue check signifies massive credibility and digital fame.

What most people don’t understand is what it actually takes to qualify and receive the blue check. A few months ago, my TikTok account and personal Instagram account were verified. Here is how it happened. 

Four years ago, I created a liquor brand with my two best friends. The marketing and branding plan was to create an exciting and engaging social media presence. We saw that the liquor industry was largely boring and run by traditional executives who did not understand social media or modern-day digital marketing. While we were building the brand, I became a social media expert and developed a deep understanding of what it would take to become successful. I also took content creation to the next level with unique-point-of-view videos using GoPros. Instead of traditional industry content, we leveraged people and an exciting lifestyle to position the brand. The success of the brand earned me frequent news interviews, a newspaper column, and many interviews in major publications.

During the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic, I became frustrated with the ever-increasing pay-to-play growth and engagement models of most social media platforms. So, I decided to get serious about TikTok. It seemed to be the only platform where huge organic growth was still possible. This paid off big. My video style was working for the audience, and I began growing quickly. My account has gone from 2,000 followers to almost 100,000 followers. A few videos early on had over 10,000 views, then 50,000 views, 100,000 views, and 500,000 views — and now, many have over 1,000,000 views. 

During a flight when I was flying a privately owned fighter jet trainer, I passed out from the massive G-forces. This video immediately went viral. It had over 3 million views within a few weeks. I decided to license the video, and it really exploded immediately after that. The Daily Mail featured the video, and then many other news sources and social media accounts followed suit. Currently, the video has over 50 million total views across all digital platforms. The Daily Mail article headline directly referenced my TikTok account and that the video had 3 million views. One week later, I opened up my TikTok, and there it was: the blue check.

After my TikTok account was verified, I opened my Instagram app, took a picture of my driver's license, and submitted it directly to Instagram for verification. Within a few hours, there it was: the blue check.

So what does it take to get your social media accounts verified? The answer is generally to be an A-list celebrity or be a leader in your industry who gains massive press and extremely viral content. If you don’t have the above, there is no third-party service I know of that can help you get a blue check. Do not fall for the rampant verification scam services out there. 

If you want to get your social media accounts verified, start off by identifying your unique skill sets and expertise. Next, work hard to become a leader in your field of expertise. Start sharing this expertise and provide value to those around you. Share your ideas on social media and work to get published in small publications. Then, small publications can become large publications.

Next, leverage your skill sets and share them in creative ways on social media. This will take time but can pay off in huge dividends. I never wanted to start a TikTok account, but I learned this was the only place I could quickly grow a massive audience. Spend time mastering social media and staying ahead of the trends. This even includes moving on to new platforms when they launch.

Now, go work on taking your content to the next level, earning major press, and getting your social media accounts verified.

[Source: This article was published in forbes.com By Alex Kowtun - Uploaded by the Association Member: Deborah Tannen] 
Published in Investigative Research

According to new research from We Are Social and Hootsuite, there are 3.8 billion social media users around the world. 

“Nearly 60% of the world’s population is already online,” said Simon Kemp, Chief Analyst at DataReportal (who produced the research), “The latest trends suggest that more than half of the world’s total population will use social media by the middle of this year.”

With this type of reach, social media use is essential for most journalists, both in terms of story gathering and distribution. It’s a fast moving space, so journalists need to be alive to the challenges – and opportunities – that this space affords. 

Below are six emerging issues and considerations for journalists in 2020.

(1) Mis- and disinformation

A fundamental challenge for social media users is that mis- and disinformation typically looks exactly the same as real news in your feed. As a result, at first glance, it can be very hard for journalists and non-journalists alike, to discern fact from fiction. 

As a result, we all need to “think before we tweet,” check the provenance of material we are sharing or using in our work, and be aware of the latest techniques being used to spread misinformation, conspiracy theories, and partisan agendas. 

To address this, these 11 tips from National Public Radio’s On The Media are also a useful starting point. Digging deeper, I highly recommend the training materials and the newsletters produced by First Draft, a global nonprofit specializing in disinformation and other media trends. These are valuable resources that all journalists should be familiar with. 

(2) Weaponization of social media

The spread of mis- and disinformation can be accidental, for example when people share stories from satirical websites like The Onion, but assume they’re true. 

Who can blame them? Sometimes the truth is stranger than fiction. Remember those stories from last year about President Trump wanting to buy Greenland? You couldn’t make this stuff up!

However, sharing this information isn’t always an accident. We also see the weaponization of social media by state actors and opportunists with the intention of influencing what we see, and our view of the world around us. Driven by financial, as well as ideological motives, this type of online activity is only going to increase.

That means news consumers — and producers — need to be more media literate than ever. 

As journalists, we need to be able to interrogate sources in new and more sophisticated ways. These requirements will only increase as deep fakes and other manipulation techniques become more advanced. 

cindy Otis

(3) Privacy concerns 

Journalists and anyone using social networks need to be cognizant about the potential repercussions of what they say online. These spaces aren’t safe from onlookers, and actions taken in these spaces are not without consequence.

In Egypt and the United Arab Emirates, for example, people have been imprisoned for online posts and WhatsApp messages

And it’s not just what you personally say online, you can also be impacted by association. 

Last year, incoming Harvard freshman Ismail Ajjawi, a Palestinian from Lebanon, was initially denied entry into the United States, purportedly due to social media posts from his Facebook friends that expressed political opposition to the U.S. Ajjawai was eventually allowed into the country and able to start his classes.

(4) The move to closed networks

Because of these trends, we are witnessing a rise of self-censorship, as consumers become increasingly wary about what they say and post online. 

In the U.S., research from Pew Research Center highlighted a desire to avoid contentious conversations or expressing opinions that may be in the minority. 

Elsewhere, conversations are moving to closed networks like WhatsApp groups and Telegram channels due to their encryption and a perception that these channels can bypass digital eavesdropping. In recognition of this, Facebook announced a pivot to privacy last year. 

A key challenge for journalists is that conversations move from the open internet to closed spaces. Being able to access these discussions is not easy, and if you do gain access, do you identify as a journalist? Does this skew the conversation and, in some cases, create risks to your personal safety? Work by former BBC Social Media Editor Mark Frankel offers a good starting point to these issues and considerations. 

(5) Filter bubbles 

Tech platforms are designed to show us more of what they think we like, rather than what we need. 

Essentially your news feed on Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram is a giant recommendation machine. These recommendations are based on what the platform thinks you want, which makes it difficult to be introduced to views that differ from our own. 

For journalists, that means we have to remind ourselves that online discussions are not representative of populations at large and that they are deeply filtered by both platform algorithms and what people choose to post. 

As storytellers, we need to work hard to be exposed to different points of view. Social media is a tool to help us in our work, but traditional methods of identifying and building relationships with sources remain just as pertinent.

This is especially true in countries and regions where many voices and experiences go unheard on social media, either because people do not have access to the technology, or they do not understand how to use it. 

Social Media is a complement to tools and techniques that journalists have always used, but not a substitute for it.

(6) Where to invest your time and energy 

“The world’s internet users will spend a cumulative 1.25 billion years online in 2020,” said Simon Kemp, “with more than one-third of that time spent using social media.” 

One final challenge for journalists and media organizations is understanding where audiences are spending that time — and the implications of this. 

The average internet user had an average of 8.5 social media accounts, according to data from GlobalWebIndex in 2018, up from 4.8 social media accounts in 2014. However, the way users divide time between these platforms varies. Although Facebook is the overall market leader, time spent on different networks changes by demographic and country. 

Moreover, because each platform has its own characteristics, social media strategies that work for one platform don’t necessarily work for another. 

As a result, diving into data from DataReportalGlobalWebIndex, the Digital News Report, and other sources is vital if you’re to understand local trends and their implications. 

In a time-pressured newsroom you cannot be everywhere online, so alongside the wider trends outlined in this piece, determining where your audience is — and what they want from their time on a given platform — is essential for your social media success.


[Source: This article was published in ijnet.org By Damian Radcliffe - Uploaded by the Association Member: James Gill]
Published in Investigative Research

With more than 500 hours of video uploaded every minute and more than one billion hours watched every day, Google's YouTube is the world's second-largest search engine. And its meteoric growth hasn't subsided. More than two billion users visit the site every month.

For Google's parent company Alphabet, it represents a significant portion of its business. In 2019, YouTube generated $15 billion in revenue. It's likely to surpass that this year with $12.89 billion in revenue so far, up about 24% from the same time last year.

While YouTube has dominated internet video and remains one of the top used streaming apps on mobile, it faces increasing competition. Steaming services like Netflix and Disney+, and social media apps like TikTok, are all vying for people's attention.

[Source: This article was published in cnbc.com By Andrew Evers - Uploaded by the Association Member: Jason bourne]

Published in Social

Social media algorithms, artificial intelligence, and our own genetics are among the factors influencing us beyond our awareness. This raises an ancient question: do we have control over our own lives? This article is part of The Conversation’s series on the science of free will.

Have you ever watched a video or movie because YouTube or Netflix recommended it to you? Or added a friend on Facebook from the list of “people you may know”?

And how does Twitter decide which tweets to show you at the top of your feed?

These platforms are driven by algorithms, which rank and recommend content for us based on our data.

Hear directly from the scientists on the latest research.

As Woodrow Hartzog, a professor of law and computer science at Northeastern University, Boston, explains:

If you want to know when social media companies are trying to manipulate you into disclosing information or engaging more, the answer is always.

So if we are making decisions based on what’s shown to us by these algorithms, what does that mean for our ability to make decisions freely?

What we see is tailored for us

An algorithm is a digital recipe: a list of rules for achieving an outcome, using a set of ingredients. Usually, for tech companies, that outcome is to make money by convincing us to buy something or keeping us scrolling in order to show us more advertisements.

The ingredients used are the data we provide through our actions online – knowingly or otherwise. Every time you like a post, watch a video, or buy something, you provide data that can be used to make predictions about your next move.

These algorithms can influence us, even if we’re not aware of it. As the New York Times’ Rabbit Hole podcast explores, YouTube’s recommendation algorithms can drive viewers to increasingly extreme content, potentially leading to online radicalisation.

Facebook’s News Feed algorithm ranks content to keep us engaged on the platform. It can produce a phenomenon called “emotional contagion”, in which seeing positive posts leads us to write positive posts ourselves, and seeing negative posts means we’re more likely to craft negative posts — though this study was controversial partially because the effect sizes were small.

Also, so-called “dark patterns” are designed to trick us into sharing more, or spending more on websites like Amazon. These are tricks of website design such as hiding the unsubscribe button, or showing how many people are buying the product you’re looking at right now. They subconsciously nudge you towards actions the site would like you to take.

You are being profiled

Cambridge Analytica, the company involved in the largest known Facebook data leak to date, claimed to be able to profile your psychology based on your “likes”. These profiles could then be used to target you with political advertising.

“Cookies” are small pieces of data which track us across websites. They are records of actions you’ve taken online (such as links clicked and pages visited) that are stored in the browser. When they are combined with data from multiple sources including from large-scale hacks, this is known as “data enrichment”. It can link our personal data like email addresses to other information such as our education level.

These data are regularly used by tech companies like Amazon, Facebook, and others to build profiles of us and predict our future behaviour.

You are being predicted

So, how much of your behaviour can be predicted by algorithms based on your data?

Our research, published in Nature Human Behaviour last year, explored this question by looking at how much information about you is contained in the posts your friends make on social media.

Using data from Twitter, we estimated how predictable peoples’ tweets were, using only the data from their friends. We found data from eight or nine friends was enough to be able to predict someone’s tweets just as well as if we had downloaded them directly (well over 50% accuracy, see graph below). Indeed, 95% of the potential predictive accuracy that a machine learning algorithm might achieve is obtainable just from friends’ data.

Average predictability from your circle of closest friends (blue line). A value of 50% means getting the next word right half of the time — no mean feat as most people have a vocabulary of around 5,000 words. The curve shows how much an AI algorithm can predict about you from your friends’ data. Roughly 8-9 friends are enough to predict your future posts as accurately as if the algorithm had access to your own data (dashed line). Bagrow, Liu, & Mitchell (2019)

Our results mean that even if you #DeleteFacebook (which trended after the Cambridge Analytica scandal in 2018), you may still be able to be profiled, due to the social ties that remain. And that’s before we consider the things about Facebook that make it so difficult to delete anyway.We also found it’s possible to build profiles of  — so-called “” — based on their contacts who are on the platform. Even if you have never used Facebook, if your friends do, there is the possibility a shadow profile could be built of you.

On social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter, privacy is no longer tied to the individual, but to the network as a whole.

No more free will? Not quite

But all hope is not lost. If you do delete your account, the information contained in your social ties with friends grows stale over time. We found predictability gradually declines to a low level, so your privacy and anonymity will eventually return.

While it may seem like algorithms are eroding our ability to think for ourselves, it’s not necessarily the case. The evidence on the effectiveness of psychological profiling to influence voters is thin.

Most importantly, when it comes to the role of people versus algorithms in things like spreading (mis)information, people are just as important. On Facebook, the extent of your exposure to diverse points of view is more closely related to your social groupings than to the way News Feed presents you with content. And on Twitter, while “fake news” may spread faster than facts, it is primarily people who spread it, rather than bots.

Of course, content creators exploit social media platforms’ algorithms to promote content, on YouTubeReddit and other platforms, not just the other way round.

At the end of the day, underneath all the algorithms are people. And we influence the algorithms just as much as they may influence us.

[Source: This article was published in theconversation.com By Misha Ketchell - Uploaded by the Association Member: Jay Harris]

Published in Search Engine

Learn key insights that will help you understand how the algorithms of Instagram, YouTube, TikTok, Twitter, and Facebook work.

Here’s an old question that gets asked every year:

How do social media algorithms work?

But, you can often uncover strategic insights by looking at an old question like this one from a different perspective.

In fact, there’s a term for this effect.

It’s called the “parallax” view.


For example, marketers often look for influencers on the social media platforms with the greatest reach.

But, influencers evaluate these same platforms based on their opportunity to grow their audience and make more money.

This explains why The State of Influencer Marketing 2020: Benchmark Report found that the top five social media platforms for influencer marketing are:

  • Instagram (82%).
  • YouTube (41%).
  • TikTok (23%).
  • Twitter (23%).
  • Facebook (5%).

This list made me wonder why marketers focus on the reach of their campaign’s outputs, but influencers are focused on the growth of their program’s outcomes.

Influencers want to learn how the Instagram and YouTube algorithms work, because they want their videos discovered by more people.

And influencers are interested in learning how the TikTok and Twitter algorithms work, because they are thinking about creating content for those platforms.

Facebook’s algorithm, however, doesn’t seem quite as important to today’s influencers – unless Facebook represents a significant opportunity for them to make more money.

There are a lot of strategic insights that marketers can glean from looking at how social media algorithms work from an influencer’s point of view.

How the Instagram Algorithm Works

Back in 2016, Instagram stopped using a reverse-chronological feed.

Since then, the posts in each user’s feed on the platform has been ordered according to the Instagram algorithm’s ranking signals.

According to the Instagram Help Center:

“Instagram’s technology uses different ways, or signals, to determine the order of posts in your feed. These signals are used to help determine how your feed is ordered, and may include:

  • “Likelihood you’ll be interested in the content.
  • “Date the post was shared.
  • “Previous interactions with the person posting.”

This has a profound impact on influencers – as well as the marketers who are trying to identify the right influencers, find the right engagement tactics, and measure the performance of their programs.


The first key signal is relevance, not reach.

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Because Instagram users are more likely to be interested in an influencer’s content if it is relevant – if it’s about what interests them.

In other words, if you’re interested in football (a.k.a., soccer), then the likelihood that you’ll be interested in content by Nabaa Al Dabbagh, aka “I Speak Football Only,” is high.

But, far too many marketers are looking for celebrities and mega-influencers who have lots of Instagram followers (a.k.a., reach), instead of looking for macro-, mid-tier, micro-, or nano-influencers who are creating relevant content that their target audience is more likely to find interesting.



The second key signal is recency, or how recently a post has been shared.

This gives an advantage to influencers like Marwan Parham Al Awadhi, a.k.a., “DJ Bliss,” who post frequently.


Unfortunately, far too many marketers are engaging influencers to create a single post during a campaign instead of building a long-term relationship with brand advocates who will generate a series of posts that recommend their brand on an ongoing basis.


The third key signal is resonance.

In other words, how engaging are an influencer’s posts?

Do they prompt interactions such as comments, likes, reshares, and views with the influencer’s audience?

And, unfortunately, way too many marketers assume that an influencer’s post that mentions their brand has increased their brand awareness, using bogus metrics like Earned Media Value (EMV).

If they’d read, Why International Search Marketers Should Care About Brand Measurement, then they’d realize there are a variety of legitimate ways to measure the impact of an influencer marketing campaign on:

  • Brand awareness.
  • Brand frequency.
  • Brand familiarity.
  • Brand favorability.
  • Brand emotions.
  • Purchase consideration.
  • Brand preference.
  • Brand demand.

Using this parallax view, it’s easy to see that too many marketers mistakenly think influencer marketing is just like display advertising.

They’re buying posts from influencers the same way they would buy ads from publishers.

So, marketers who only look at an influencer’s reach shouldn’t be shocked, shocked to discover that some influencers are using bad practices such as fake followers, bots, and fraud to inflate their numbers.

If you use a one-dimensional view of an influencer’s influence, then you reap what you sow.

How Does the YouTube Algorithm Work?

But, these articles were written for marketers, not influencers.

So, what can we learn from looking at YouTube’s algorithm from an influencer’s point of view?

Well, according to YouTube Help:

“The goals of YouTube’s search and discovery system are twofold: to help viewers find the videos they want to watch, and to maximize long-term viewer engagement and satisfaction.”

So, YouTube influencers need to start by creating great content on discoverable topics.


Well, YouTube is one of the most-used search engines in the world.

People visit the site looking for videos about all sorts of subjects.

These viewers may not necessarily be looking for a specific influencer’s video, but they’ll discover it if it ranks well in YouTube search results or suggested videos.

Learn how to use Google Trends to find out what your audience is looking for on YouTube.

The default results in Google Trends shows “web search” interest in a search term or a topic.

But, if you click on the “web search” tab, the drop-down menu will show you that one of your other options is “YouTube search” interest.

YouTube influencers can then use what they see to inform their content strategies.

For example, you might learn that there was 31% more YouTube search interest worldwide in the topic, beauty, than in the topic, fashion.


Or you might discover that there was 18 times more YouTube search interest worldwide in the sport, drifting, than in the sport, motorsport.


YouTube’s algorithm can’t watch your videos, so you need to optimize your metadata, including your titles, tags, and descriptions.

Unfortunately, most marketers don’t use this approach to find the search terms and topics on YouTube that are relevant for their brand and then identify the influencers who are creating content that ranks well for these keywords and phrases.

Now, getting your YouTube video content discovered is only half the battle.

Influencers also need to build long watch-time sessions for their content by organizing and featuring content on their channel, including using series playlists.

As YouTube Help explains:

“A series playlist allows you to mark your playlist as an official set of videos that should be viewed together. Adding videos to a series playlist allows other videos in the playlist to be featured and recommended when someone is viewing a video in the series. YouTube may use this info to modify how the videos are presented or discovered.”

Fortunately, one of the guest speakers for NMA’s program was Mark Wiens, one of the most famous food vloggers in the world.

His YouTube channel has more than 1.4 billion views and almost 6.7 million subscribers.

Here are examples of the playlists that he had created, including Thai food and travel guides.

mark wien

Now, marketers could also look over the playlists on the YouTube channels of influencers when they’re evaluating which ones are “right” for a campaign.

However, I strongly suspect that this only happens once in a blue moon.

How Does the TikTok Algorithm Work?

The TikTok Newsroom posted How TikTok recommends videos #ForYou just before I was scheduled to talk about this topic.

Hey, sometimes you get lucky.


Here’s what I learned:

“When you open TikTok and land in your For You feed, you’re presented with a stream of videos curated to your interests, making it easy to find content and creators you love. This feed is powered by a recommendation system that delivers content to each user that is likely to be of interest to that particular user.”

So, how does this platform’s recommendation system work?

According to TikTok:

“Recommendations are based on a number of factors, including things like:

  • “User interactions such as the videos you like or share, accounts you follow, comments you post, and content you create.
  • “Video information, which might include details like captions, sounds, and hashtags.
  • “Device and account settings like your language preference, country setting, and device type. These factors are included to make sure the system is optimized for performance, but they receive lower weight in the recommendation system relative to other data points we measure since users don’t actively express these as preferences.”

The TikTok Newsroom adds:

“All these factors are processed by our recommendation system and weighted based on their value to a user. A strong indicator of interest, such as whether a user finishes watching a longer video from beginning to end, would receive greater weight than a weak indicator, such as whether the video’s viewer and creator are both in the same country. Videos are then ranked to determine the likelihood of a user’s interest in a piece of content, and delivered to each unique For You feed.”

TikTok cautions:

“While a video is likely to receive more views if posted by an account that has more followers, by virtue of that account having built up a larger follower base, neither follower count nor whether the account has had previous high-performing videos are direct factors in the recommendation system.”

It’s worth noting that Oracle has won the bid to acquire TikTok’s U.S. operations after ByteDance rejected a bid by Walmart and Microsoft.

Meanwhile, YouTube released YouTube Shorts, a TikTok-like feature, while Facebook recently launched Instagram Reels, which is basically a TikTok knock-off.

So, it appears that some very big players are convinced that TikTok represents a significant opportunity to make more money, or a competitive threat to the growth of their own social media platforms.

I wish that I could add more, but I’m a stranger here myself.

How Does Twitter’s Algorithm Work?

When Twitter was launched back in 2006, it had a simple timeline structure and tweets were displayed in reverse chronological order from the people you followed.

But, like other social media, Twitter started using an algorithm to show users posts that different factors indicate they’ll like.

The biggest recent change to Twitter’s algorithm took place in 2017.

According to a Twitter blog post by Nicolas Koumchatzky and Anton Andryeyev:

“Right after gathering all Tweets, each is scored by a relevance model. The model’s score predicts how interesting and engaging a Tweet would be specifically to you. A set of highest-scoring Tweets is then shown at the top of your timeline, with the remainder shown directly below.”

Their post added:

“Depending on the number of candidate Tweets we have available for you and the amount of time since your last visit, we may choose to also show you a dedicated “In case you missed it” module. This modules meant to contain only a small handful of the very most relevant Tweets ordered by their relevance score, whereas the ranked timeline contains relevant Tweets ordered by time. The intent is to let you see the best Tweets at a glance first before delving into the lengthier time-ordered sections.”

How Does Facebook’s Algorithm Work?

The biggest recent change to Facebook’s algorithm took place in January 2018.

In a Facebook post, Mark Zuckerberg announced:

“I’m changing the goal I give our product teams from focusing on helping you find relevant content to helping you have more meaningful social interactions.”

He added:

“The first changes you’ll see will be in News Feed, where you can expect to see more from your friends, family and groups. As we roll this out, you’ll see less public content like posts from businesses, brands, and media. And the public content you see more will be held to the same standard — it should encourage meaningful interactions between people.”

That same day, Adam Mosseri, who was then the head of News Feed, also wrote a Facebook post that said:

“Today we use signals like how many people react to, comment on or share posts to determine how high they appear in News Feed. With this update, we will also prioritize posts that spark conversations and meaningful interactions between people. To do this, we will predict which posts you might want to interact with your friends about, and show these posts higher in feed. These are posts that inspire back-and-forth discussion in the comments and posts that you might want to share and react to – whether that’s a post from a friend seeking advice, a friend asking for recommendations for a trip, or a news article or video prompting lots of discussion.”

He added:

“Because space in News Feed is limited, showing more posts from friends and family and updates that spark conversation means we’ll show less public content, including videos and other posts from publishers or businesses.”

So, it isn’t surprising that influencers got the memo.

Which explains why so few believe Facebook represents a significant opportunity to make more money.

Ironically, it’s unclear that marketers got the memo.

Far too many are still cranking out Facebook posts and videos despite the fact that few people are reacting to, commenting on, or sharing them.

Or, as I wrote in Two Social Media Vanity Metrics You Need to Stop Tracking, marketers should stop tracking Facebook Page Likes and Followers because “you’re lucky if .0035% of your Fans and Followers even sees your post or tweet these days.”


The Takeaway

These are just some of the strategic insights that marketers can discover by looking at how social media algorithms work from an influencer’s point of view.

If you’re a marketer, then I suggest you move most of the people and budget that you’ve dedicated to creating branded content on Facebook into influencer marketing on Instagram and YouTube.

As for TikTok and Twitter, wait until after the dust settles later this year.

[Source: This article was published in searchenginejournal.com By Greg Jarboe - Uploaded by the Association Member: Corey Parker]

Published in Social

Facebook is merging Messenger chats with Instagram direct messages, giving users a way to access both inboxes from the same place.

Facebook is giving users the option to merge their Messenger inbox with Instagram Direct, which grants the ability to send messages across platforms.

Users are seeing a pop-up when opening the Instagram app informing them about this update.

“There’s a New Way to Message on Instagram,” the pop-up reads.

The notice goes on to emphasize the following benefits of merging the two chat platforms:

  • New colorful look for your chats
  • React with any emoji
  • Swipe to reply to messages
  • Chat with friends who use Facebook

Before you choose to update, be aware that it will change the entire look and feel of your Instagram direct message inbox.

Instagram Direct will suddenly look more like Facebook Messenger. Even the icon at the top right of the screen will be replaced with the Messenger icon.

Those who prefer things the way they are will be happy to know this update is completely optional.

If you enjoy the classic design of Instagram DM’s, or you want to keep the two inboxes separate, select the “Not Now” option at the very bottom of the alert.

Users who are on board with merging the two inboxes can go ahead and select “Update.”

Here’s what the alert looks like:


Note that even if you don’t update you will still be able to receive message requests on Instagram from Facebook accounts.

That appears to be the only way to message Facebook users from Instagram at this point – a Facebook user has to initiate the chat.

This may change in the future, but right now it’s not possible to start conversations with Facebook users from Instagram.

With that being the case, this update seems to be most useful for Instagram users who are not active on Facebook.

This gives non-Facebook users a way to keep in touch with friends and family who would prefer to communicate through Messenger.

Now, there’s no compromise needed on either side. Messenger users can communicate with Instagram users without having to leave their platform of choice.

This is an update that has been in the works for well over a year now, as Facebook gave the world a heads-up about this change back in 2019.

Facebook Cross-Platform Messaging

We reported back in January 2019 that Facebook was working on merging its messaging products.

As per a statement from a Facebook spokesperson:

“[We want to] build the best messaging experiences we can; and people want messaging to be fast, simple, reliable and private.

We’re working on making more of our messaging products end-to-end encrypted and considering ways to make it easier to reach friends and family across networks.”

At the time, Facebook planned to have a solution in place by early 2020.

Those plans got derailed by the pandemic, which forced Facebook to focus instead on live streaming.

The live streaming boom was triggered by COVID-19 lockdowns, which lead to increased time spent at home on Facebook.

In order to keep up with the demand for live streaming Facebook had to pause work on other projects.

Presumably, merging messaging platforms was one of the projects that got put on hold.

After successfully beefing up its live streaming capabilities, it appears Facebook is now picking up where it left off.

[Source: This article was published in searchenginejournal.com By Matt Southern - Uploaded by the Association Member: Bridget Miller]

Published in News & Politics

Social media monitoring is fast becoming a requirement for modern brands who looking to support their customers on social media platforms, keep an eye on competitors, and/or find relevant influencers. But it can also be a daunting task - with so much discussion happening online, you can easily get swamped by irrelevant mentions, which not only waste your time but can also impact your analytics in a negative way.

One way to address this is by utilizing a monitoring tool with Boolean search capacity, which will enable you to hone in your search terms and focus on more specific mentions. Not every social monitoring tool has Boolean capabilities - tools like Awario, TweetDeck, or Sprout Social will let you play around with Boolean before settling on a subscription plan:

  • Awario is a comprehensive social media and web monitoring tool which comes with advanced features, like Boolean search and powerful analytics
  • TweetDeck is a free Twitter tool with impressive search capabilities and scheduling options.
  • Sprout Social is an all-in-one solution for social media marketers: it’s equipped with a unified inbox, customizable reports, scheduled post publishing, and advanced social listening mode
1 social media - AOFIRS

But before we dive into the 'how' of creating more complex Boolean expressions for brand monitoring, lets start with the basics - without going into too much technical detail, Boolean search enables users to create more specific queries for more accurate results and better reporting. By using your keywords, along with Boolean operators, you can either restrict or broaden your search expressions, and improve your results. 

Here are five steps to help you nail Boolean search for social media monitoring.

1. Find out if you actually need Boolean search

Boolean logic powers up a search query and makes it more adaptable to your needs. But that said, not everyone will need it. If, for example, you don't have a brand name that can be used in multiple contexts, a regular search will likely tackle the task.

Here are some examples of when Boolean search is the only option, or at least, where it will be more helpful than a regular search mode:

  • The name of the brand is a common or ambiguous word - e.g. Apple, Slack, or Uber. Using such a name as a keyword will likely bring a ton of irrelevant mentions. Boolean search can help to narrow your results by utilizing grouping or negative keywords.
  • Combining groups of keywords - Let’s say I own a streaming platform - to find people looking for a service like mine online, I might use phrases like 'streaming service', 'streaming app', 'streaming platform', etc. Using Boolean, I can combine this group with phrases people use to ask about something, such as 'looking for', 'recommend', 'I need', etc., enabling broader, more accurate mention matching.
  • Searching for linkless mentions - With Boolean search, it’s also easier to create queries which exclude mentions that already have links to a particular website. You can also filter results by language or country, and the same operator also makes it possible to discover new backlinks as they appear.
  • Checking for plagiarism - This is probably the least obvious case for using Boolean search, but it works, and it works great. You can set up a query that will search for exact matches of pieces of your content across social media platforms and on the Web to see if someone's using your work without permission.

2. Research keywords

Before playing around with your first query, it's a good idea to get a clear understanding of what keywords should be included, because the tool will ignore lots of relevant results otherwise.

It’s extremely important to research all alternate brand spellings, common typos, and acronyms - in the example below, you can see that the most popular brand name alternatives are listed, along with relevant social media handles and a hashtag.

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3. Learn Boolean operators

Major Boolean logic operators that any social monitoring tool has are 'OR', 'AND', 'AND NOT'.

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In addition, platforms can go beyond these basics to fulfill more specific needs of businesses, though not all will offer each variant. Here, for example, are the operators offered by Awario:


To search for a specific word combination, or an exact phrase match, you can list the term/s in quotation marks. If you place the plus sign before the quoted phrase, the app will respect special characters and punctuation marks, while double plus before the quoted phrase will ensure the app also considers letter case. 

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This operator searches for either or both listed keywords. Note that all operators can be used multiple times within a query. In this example, we'll add a social media handle, which is spelled as a single word. This will enable us to monitor conversations where people tag the company. Then we can also add the 'TBC' acronym - it's not used as often, but we’ll include it for the sake of an example.

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Predictably enough, the query above will bring lots of irrelevant mentions, as 'TBC' has a huge amount of full forms. The 'AND' operator will help us make sure that the results include a specific keyword or a group of keywords together with those we already have.

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I’ve added the last name of the company’s CEO - this will show us only results where 'TBC' is mentioned in the same post as Musk.


The 'AND NOT' operator is used to add negative keywords to your search. For example, let’s say you want to stop getting conversations where people discuss the fact that the company sells flamethrowers.

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The next step in improving our search is grouping the keywords and assigning special keyword formats to them. It’s pretty straightforward here - to group a couple of keywords, you can list them in brackets. For example, let’s imagine we want to add more negative keywords using 'OR'. We have to be sure to group them, otherwise, the 'OR' operator will be applied to the rest of the query.

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country, lang, and FROM

Within Boolean search, you can also filter your results by country, language, or social media platform with the help of 'country', 'lang', and 'FROM' respectively. The first two can be used together with the 'AND' operator, while 'FROM' is used independently.

So let’s say we need to get mentions from Australia and New Zealand in English, and we want to get mentions from Twitter, Reddit, and Facebook. The search expression would be the following:

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Treating links separately in addition to your keywords is important for several purposes:

  • Getting metrics for a particular web page and interacting with users who share this page online
  • Picking up mentions where a website’s name is different from target keywords
  • Collecting mentions which link to a website but don’t contain a mention of its name
  • Excluding web pages linking to your own website for link-building purposes

The 'link' operator will help us with these tasks.

Let’s include the link to the website just to make sure we don’t lose any mentions where the anchor text is different from the URL.

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Note that adding an asterisk before and after a URL makes sure that links to all subdomains and pages of a website will be found as well.


This operator specifies the closeness of your keywords to each other - this means that your search app will pull in mentions where keywords appear within a number of words away from each other.

Let’s imagine that we've decided to monitor news about 'Boring Bricks' produced by the company from the examples above. Quick research shows that, in news report, these words generally appear in a different order and the distance between them is also different. Let’s choose the safe distance of, say, 50 words and see if we get good results on Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube.

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To make sure we don’t get irrelevant mentions, we'll look for those starting with capital letters only.


'UNION' helps in combining multiple Boolean expressions into one. This makes sense if you want to merge a couple of search expressions with completely different parameters and different sources into one expression, i.e. get all results into one feed.

As you can see, the last two examples above have different sources. If we want to merge both expressions, we’ll need help from the 'UNION' operator.

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4. Avoid common mistakes

Capitalize AND, OR, AND NOT

This one is common. Keep in mind that a query won’t be correct until you capitalize the 'AND', 'OR', 'AND NOT', and 'FROM' operators.

Group keywords

If a query is (or seems to be) ready, but the results are completely the opposite of what you expected, the problem is most likely the grouping. Remember that if not grouped, 'AND' or 'AND NOT' are applied to the closest keyword only.

Choose suitable operators

Languages are flexible, and the same phrase may be constructed differently depending on its place in the sentence. For that purpose, the proximity operator 'near/n' will often do a better job than putting a phrase into quotes.

Don’t forget that keywords aren’t case-sensitive

They aren’t, and they ignore symbols and capital letters unless you specifically tell them not to, using such keyword formats as +“h&m” or even ++“H&M”.

5. Iterate

It’s difficult to foresee all the possible outcomes of queries, as a brand abbreviation may be also used by another company, or an initial negative keywords list might not be complete. But the good news is that queries can always be edited and extended. My advice here is iterate, blacklist, remove, add terms, and to experiment with different operators.

Summing Up

Social media is a great place to get instant feedback or content for your company. When choosing a brand monitoring tool, make sure Boolean search capability, and unlimited keywords are included in the product to maximize this capacity.

Is Boolean hard to use? It can look intimidating at first, but learning the process really is worth the effort, and you can easily find lots of educational resources for the topic.

Take advantage of Boolean search to get the most relevant results possible - and happy monitoring.

 [Source: This article was published in socialmediatoday.com By Aleh Barysevich - Uploaded by the Association Member: Jennifer Levin]

Published in Search Engine
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