The Importance of Being Earnest, v2.0

The Importance of Being Earnest, v2.0

It might have came to your attention that some YouTubers have landed themselves in rather hot water lately. The row essentially boils down to two top gaming personalities, “TmarTn“, and “Syndicate“, misleading their multi-million subscriber communities. We know that gaming isn’t for everyone, but there’s something we’re interested in here – and that’s the importance of sincerity when producing content. To provide context for those who don’t follow these circles, here’s a quick and easy to follow summary about what’s happened.

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TmarTn and Syndicate have been high-profile YouTubers, famed for their gaming videos, and making several million dollars from their work. Not a bad pay for video games, and the most recent  game of choice is Counter-Strike:Global Offensive (hereafter known as CS:GO). CS:GO is a first person shooter, playable online with millions of others, and has a highly engaged, publicized, and lucrative competitive scene – winners at the top of the game can make a great deal of cash in tournaments and sponsorship. While TmarTn and Syndicate aren’t top competitive gamers, together, they founded a website called CSGOLotto, a site that allows users to enter their in-game items in a lottery, with the winner taking home all the items. The more valuable the item, the more tickets it buys you in the lottery. The issue arises, because these items aren’t cheap. In fact, many can be sold for several hundred dollars per item. Both YouTubers ran videos that generated millions of views promoting the site, with them playing and winning big – but with them owning the site, the validity and fairness of the results are now under scrutiny. After all, if you run the website and can access the back-end – how random are the results really going to be? However, the point of this article isn’t to do with why someone would spend a large sum of cash for pixels in a particular formation and colour that has no benefit or extra powers. It is to do with two things – authenticity from content generators, and a snapshot at what social media actually “is”.
To quote the great Oscar Wilde, author of our article’s slightly butchered title;

“The truth is rarely pure, and never simple”.

Social media, and the ways in which we can share information, continues to grow each day. The sheer volume of information exchanged per day, if burned to a Blu-Ray disc and stacked high, is greater than four Eiffel Towers. That’s a lot of cat pictures. But it’s also a lot of opinion and perspective. What’s been incredibly interesting while watching this story unfold, is the interpretation of “the truth”, both from the individuals involved, and members of their respective loyal community. While the videos have been much criticized, TmarTn has taken the approach of YouTube apology videos in a bid to explain his actions. By contrast, Syndicate has taken a more self-deprecating stance, and poked fun at it in video descriptions. Both users have found themselves being targeted with a severe backlash from their following on social media, and have fought to get fans on their side. In all likelihood, had both contributors made videos that clearly outlined they were playing on a site that they owned from day one, nobody would bat an eye-lid. But through pretending to have no affiliation, they have deceived millions of viewers – and in all likelihood, several thousand players as a direct result of the videos. To some degree, had they been transparent, they would likely have experienced the same volume of traffic from the same adoring fans. Alas, we all have 20/20 vision when it comes to hindsight. In an article for Forbes, Nick Morgan highlighted the importance of authenticity and charisma in leadership communication. In an extension of this, we believe it shares equal value when considering our social voice.

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YouTube is a much forgotten part of the social networking scene. Not because you don’t know what YouTube is (how did you make it here and not!?), but because it doesn’t fit what would now be considered the traditional social network. However YouTube remains the most efficient vehicle for sharing a message on video. Yes, Snapchat is wonderful. But we don’t mean a quick advert of promotion from an individual. We mean a “message”, a cause, a point for the world to know or share. YouTube is about the community, whereas Snapchat is about the individual. If we talk to social communities without sincerity and authenticity, then very quickly we’ll see that audience turn into enemies, or worse still, feel nothing towards our voice or brand. We want to communicate clearly, effectively, and above all, honestly. This, in our humble opinion, is the greatest failing of these two YouTubers. Not the result of what they’ve done, but the actions which created the result. To again quote Mr Wilde;

“The good ended happily, and the bad unhappily. That is what Fiction means.”

“Fiction”, is the key point here. While we all hope that a villain will get their comeuppance, it’s sadly not often the case. However, a quick glimpse at social media in it’s current form would highlight a change. Through the ability for live and public broadcast, from video to text, we’re able to expose lies, deceit and tyranny across the world – from the Arab Spring, to police shootings. Social media is rapidly becoming the enforcer of our modern lives, and the ever present watchdog. Often playful, always vigilant. In many regards as a social media software company, one of our key roles must always be in helping this communication, and not standing in the way of it. With this in mind, you can count on us for two things – Transparency and Ease. Transparency about how we operate. Ease for people to use. Our latest mission, is in helping people find their audience on social media.

Transparency: We’d like you to give it a try, and have made it really easy to cancel if it’s not for you.
Ease: You can click the big button below.

– The SoGrow Team

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Social Media Apps For 2016

Social Media Apps For 2016

Social media apps have been part of the social marketplace for long enough, yet now more than ever users are looking to get more out of them for less time spend. A study from SimilarWeb, which contrasted the app time spend of the key four social media platforms (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat) between Q1 2015 and Q1 2016, showed a significant decline in the time users spend in-app. Most alarmingly, Instagram time spend decreased by over a third, and Twitter by over a quarter.  With the old guard having struggles to varying degrees, let’s take a quick look at what social media apps you need to know about, that give you value without taking up your time. We’ve even gave you some handy videos!

Reddit

Curiously, this is a fairly new development – Reddit apps have often been provided by third parties, and found high levels of growth. Yet, not enough as entice the owners to make one – until now. They’ve woken up, embraced what everyone has wanted, and built their own. With a glossy interface and early growth across iOS and Google Play, this could be the tool that gets Reddit out of the shade and into the spotlight. But whatever you do, don’t go in there thinking you’re going to make millions in sales without giving value.

Periscope

We touched on this a short while ago, but Twitter have made a big investment into Periscope in the hope that integration with this live streaming superhero will turn around their fortunes. Despite the decline in app time on platforms like Snapchat, it’s important to consider that videos typically gain 8-10x more engagement than more traditional forms of copy. As such, this can represent a great opportunity for businesses and users alike. Need more evidence? Just ask Chewbacca Mom about the value of live video.

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Ok, you caught us – we’re a little biased on this one. But with good reason. We’ve been featured in some interesting articles, and offer users and small businesses the chance to use our automation tools to manage their social media. Users can decide how active or inactive they want to be, safe in the knowledge that SoGrow is building a targeted and relevant audience. Not convinced? You can try it free for 30 days, with no obligation or contract to stay. We’re big believers that our social media app could help change the way that people spend their time on social media – more focus on creating engaging content, less time on the boring leg work. What’s not to like (other than self-promotional parts of blog posts…*ahem*)?

Peach

Modern Wall Street’s helpful video above helps explain Peach, the social media platform for iOS that’s fast becoming the hottest property in mobile circles. Essentially, Peace serves as an aggregator and provides a walled garden – everything is on the platform, and you don’t need to leave it. Get the best and most relevant content for you, your friends and your connections, across all key social platforms in one place. To put it simply, Peach pulls everything into one place. The lovechild of Twitter, Slack, Instagram, Snapchat, and Outlook – in other words, worth checking out. Looking for a more detailed insight? Influencer Carlos Gil, reviews it here.

Facebook Change The News Feed…Again.

Facebook Change The News Feed…Again.

Facebook, described delightfully in The New Yorker as “a tyrannical boy king with a short attention span“, has tweaked the News Feed. Again. As is their right, of course. But let’s consider the reasons why. Facebook have continued to alter the algorithm, the API, and everything in between with the core underpinning values of “Friends and Family Come First”, and “A Platform for All Ideas”. These two lovely but naturally opposing concepts can make it difficult for anyone, from the social butterfly to the social media marketer, to really know what’s going on. So let us turn to our qualified friends at TechCrunch, for a breakdown of how Facebook decides the content you get in the News Feed…roughly.

TechCrunch Facebook Algorithm

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Consider the above, for a number of different functions. Firstly, everyone hates ads. This is a near universally accepted truth. People will tolerate a targeted ad, and will enjoy an entertaining ad. But, on the whole, if taking all ads everywhere and contrasting against all natural content – there’s only one winner. We can take two things from this. One, that this is why ad agencies get to charge what they charge (and rightly so). Two, that the way business approaches Facebook is going to change. People who use their Facebook Pages have long bemoaned the fact that Facebook was becoming less about engaging content and more about digging deep into our pockets. With this update, we can expect to see the Facebook News Feed heavily favour the updates from your friends and family, and filter out business and celebrity. The result? Referral traffic and reach is going to struggle to gain traction naturally, so if people are to see more from your page, they’re going to have to like or share from it. Here’s what we think are the top three things to consider for the latest Facebook man-child update.

1) Likes and Comments could stop being vanity stats.

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Ask anyone who’s paid for a lot of Facebook ads, and many will confirm that the goal is to drive relevant and targeted people to your website, and get them to purchase. This makes sense, or rather it should, because this is how advertising works. Show the pretty picture, person likes the pretty picture, buys the pretty picture. Repeat ad infinitum. However, if company pages and content are going to be less prominent, this might not be as possible without a substantial backing of relevant likes and shares. We’re cautious about pushing it, but are inclined to say that in the not to distant future we’re going to see much more “like and share” focused content – as even if a user likes the page, they might not see your content without a friend sharing it. Good for the user, who will hopefully find more enjoyable and less sales-focused content. Bad for the social sales funnel, which might have got a little longer.

2) The Small Biz Cash Grab hits Publishing

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You’d be forgiven for thinking while reading this that we resent Facebook. It’s far from true. Hell, we’re hoping to be able to automate everyone’s social media and help you find success – we can’t do that without the biggest platform. However, the fact remains that for many small businesses and retailers, Facebook has been far more pay-to-play than it ever really should be. To naturally choose to depress small business content, on account of a limited initial footprint, makes it near impossible to gain traction without digging into your pocket. In many regards, this is a fair price to pay in order to be part of Facebook’s glorious empire. But, it’s still a sad day for publishing.  News, as we know, is rarely cheerful. Doom and gloom sells papers, happy go lucky news doesn’t. But the same is rarely true on social media. Consider the recent criticism of Twitter, and the reliance it had on the news of the day to gain clicks and capture your attention. Publishing of news is a vital part of a social economy, and it feels a real shame that a tightly squeezed sector will be forced to get the wallet out to reach the people who already want their news. More news behind a paywall is not an enjoyable thing.

3) This will almost certainly fail

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The Facebook algorithm is an evolving and ever-changing being. As such, it’s not fair to look it in the eye and say it failed, because it’s only ever a few hours or days away from another tweak. And anyway, Silicon Valley is built on the principles of failure. Facebook is an angry teenager, who’s techno we must learn to love. And like an angry teenager, they’re going through changes they don’t quite understand – all this content from all spheres, overloading their mind, on top of having lost out on the girl they loved to Microsoft, before claiming they weren’t all that into her. Most people, rightly or wrongly, get a little bored with seeing the same people talk about the same things everyday. Humans are creatures of habit, and to keep the platform fresh and retain users, we need to be able to see new content from new people. This can’t work with the existing News Feed state, and in time, will gradually be adjusted.

 

The short summary – This is just a phase, and Facebook will come around. Everyone stay patient, and be ready to give them a big hug. We always loved Facebook, no matter how messy their bedroom is.

Looking for an edge on social media? Check out the SoGrow blog for daily posts about the world of social media, or try our automation tools free for 30 days.

Of Silicon and Unicorns

Of Silicon and Unicorns

Edinburgh Castle was built on a volcano. An inactive one. But still, quite why anyone thought this was a good idea is up for debate – one can only assume that planning permission and building control wasn’t quite as big a deal back in the Iron Age. Fortunately, given that we haven’t seen trails of molten kilts and ginger wigs flowing through the streets of the city, there’s not been an eruption. While there were of course great tactical reasons for building the castle at the top of a volcano, it’s also reflective of the inherently romantic and “live for the day” nature of Scottish innovation – if it goes wrong, we’ll fix it tomorrow.

Success Stories

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This never say die thread of thought has found itself at the heart of Edinburgh start-ups, and nowhere more so than in the technology sector – where only the bravest dare venture against the behemoths of Google, Facebook, Twitter, Apple, and all other branded electronic goods. And yet, Edinburgh has become the home of our own technology giants, including some of the most disruptive, prominent and valuable companies. Booked a holiday through Skyscanner lately? Played Grand Theft Auto? Watched Sky? Maybe you did all three on a Dell computer? If you did, chances are, someone in Edinburgh played a part in your experience.

The Unicorns

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There’s a term to describe many of these companies. And somewhat aptly, considering they’re the national animal of Scotland – it’s the Unicorn (No really, it is. Pinky promise.). A Unicorn, is regarded as a private company valued at $1bn or more. In Edinburgh, there’s a number of businesses who have either achieved this status, or have the potential to join them – and the spotlight is shining brighter than ever. From companies like SoDash, providing highly advanced social media analytics, to brands like FanDuel leading the charge for Fantasy Sports, Edinburgh is the place to be. Indeed, the technological volcano hasn’t only erupted across Edinburgh – it’s booming across Scotland. Across in Glasgow, companies like Zapcoder lead the way in social games. Head further north, and healthcare technology is booming in Dundee, as VFT recently secured £10million funding for it’s medical device innovations. Indeed, Dundee University received a £2.2 million grant for it’s dialysis research. Clearly, the “City of Discovery” continues to live up to it’s name.

The Future

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In many ways, we shouldn’t be surprised that the country that gave us the telephone and the TV continues to innovate. Yet, when more and more businesses head to Palo Alto instead of Peterhead, we have to wonder why? With so much technological innovation in the Scottish economy, aren’t we set to become the first future-proof economy? Given that Moore’s law is increasingly set to expire, the next set of advancements in technology are increasingly unlikely to come from power – it will come from precision. The scalpel, instead of the sledgehammer. And with the finely-tuned innovative companies that continue to blossom across our landscape, we’re excited for what comes next. Home is where the heart is, and technology’s heart is in Edinburgh.