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Google is Creating a Mobile-only Search Index

Google Mobile Search Index

Ask any Webmaster or SEO specialist what have been the most significant advancements in search over the past few years and they are highly likely to count mobile at the top of their list. Now it appears Google is willing to take its focus on optimising services for mobile users to the next level with a search index devoted entirely to mobile results - and make it their primary search index.

According to information published by Search Engine Land, Google is going to create a new mobile search index “within months”. This will help to give mobile users access to more relevant and higher-quality content. It is currently unclear how exactly the new mobile index will work; whether it will only contain results considered “mobile-friendly”, and, as a primary index, whether it will really not be used for desktop queries.

The new index is undoubtedly the culmination of Google’s attempts to push webmasters to prioritise the creation of mobile-friendly sites; already they favour those who do so in their current SERPs, a result of so-called #Mobilegeddon back in April 2015. A mobile-only index would empower the search engine to expand on the quality of their current algorithm, with which it is all-too common for alternate mobile sites of desktop sites to not live up to the expectations created in SERPs.

In relation to how it will affect ranking Barry Schwartz of RustyBrick had this to say:

“The most substantial change will likely be that by having a mobile index, Google can run its ranking algorithm in a different fashion across “pure” mobile content rather than the current system that extracts data from desktop content to determine mobile rankings.”

While a desktop index will continue to be maintained, it will eventually take back seat to the mobile index, becoming less regularly updated. In a statement to the Guardian Google commented “[we] are always experimenting with different approaches to keep search index as relevant and useful as possible, but we don’t have any new developments to announce.”

Is Facebook Marketplace a Feature Too Far?

Facebook Marketplace Feature too Far

Facebook’s newest update introduced the world of classified ads to the social network. Reminiscent of Gumtree and Craigslist, Facebook Marketplace gives users immediate access to a local buy and sell board. But with users already abusing it to sell illegal and illicit items, could it be a feature too far for the network?

When Facebook Marketplace was announced at the beginning of this week, it didn’t take long for controversy to come a-knocking. Within a matter of hours, a number of illicit ads had been posted purporting to sell items such as baby Hedgehogs, drugs and guns. Rather unsurprisingly, these items come under a list of prohibited items within Facebook’s Commerce Policy.

While the social networking giant were quick to tell the BBC that the violations were a result of a “technical issue that prevented [the] system from identifying some posts that violated [their] commerce policies and community standards” and has since been (in the most part) resolved, it’s nevertheless launched the listings feature with a sense of unease.

The sheer volume of prohibited and illicit ads that were highlighted at the feature’s launch far outweighed the amount of spam listings that often turn up on Craigslist and Gumtree.

A feature too far?

You’d have to be living with your eyes closed to fail to realise that Facebook is currently trying to become the internet on the internet. Each of their most recent updates have been intended to limit the amount of time that users are required to spend away from the network - from creating an in-app browser to view external content, to enabling businesses to showcase and sell their products and services direct from their pages, all the way down to trying to control how users communicate via messaging and live video.

It’s fairly evident that, to Facebook, Marketplace is another step towards their ultimate vision. But some users are sceptical, taking issue with the fact that this product relies wholeheartedly on content supplied by users. With Marketplace they have effectively created a feature that does not feel at all defined by the network and actually feels slightly like a departure to an external product altogether.

For users it feels like Facebook is in a transitional phase as social network. A transition from being defined by its features, to being defined by each specific user’s preference of a bucketful of different features, all of which nobody uses and of which you’d have to be an expert to know quite how many actually existed.

One thing is for sure, there is a lot going on at Facebook at the moment - sooner or later, users are going to get annoyed.

Instagram Adds “Save Draft” Feature

Instagram Adds Save Draft Feature

This week Instagram unveiled yet another feature intended to both improve the core components of the social network and enhance accessibility for users. The photo-based social networking app now allows users to save a draft of their photo edits so that they can return to them later…

Very recently Instagram rolled out an update that gives users the ability to pinch to zoom in on photos. This update was announced on the official Instagram account, alongside the statement “as things change, we’re still focused on improving the core parts of Instagram.” It seems as though the new “save draft” feature is one of these cited improvements.

Users now have the ability to save a pre-edited draft of one of their posts that they can return to later. While not the most momentous of updates, “save draft” means that we no longer have the stress of getting to the end of a perfect edit before discovering that we have to either exit the app or rush off before we have had the chance to draft the perfect caption and post. First world problems? Perhaps, but a useful feature nonetheless, and one that looks to make the network more user friendly and limit instances of annoyance.

The social network first began testing the feature back in July, but is only now making it official. Once they have started editing an image and drafting their caption, users can press the return button and will prompted to either discard their post or save a draft. If the latter option is chosen, the saved image can be accessed by tapping the Camera button and then hitting “library”.

Although it is a very simple process, there are full details of how the feature works available on the Instagram Help Centre.

Giraffe Welcome Sheleena to the Team

Sheleena Cameron Giraffe Social Media Manager

The one thing that really defines Giraffe Social Media are the people who we have working here! We appreciate how each person’s individualities and unique skills can make our office a far more vibrant place to work and help to develop our constantly evolving service - and whenever somebody new joins us, we get rather giddy...

This week we are incredibly excited to be able to introduce to you a brand new member of the Giraffe family, Sheleena Cameron! Sheleena recently graduated from the University of Essex where she studied English Language and Literature. We stole her for a few moments to see what makes her tick...

Welcome Sheleena!

Thank you!

Describe yourself in three words, one adjective, one verb and one noun.

Sheleena is fun.

Clever. Obviously you studied English at University - did you enjoy it, did you do anything fun, join any societies etc…

I did enjoy! I didn’t really like the language bit at the end of it but I enjoyed it all the same! The only thing I joined was the Cheerleading team - a very successful team I might add. Other than that I worked at Starbucks at the SU which was fun.

What made you study English Language and Literature?

Nothing much apart from the fact that I’m good at English and I like reading.

Fair enough! So what drove you to apply to work with Giraffe?

I can’t remember, it was a while ago - I think it was June! I was looking for jobs that I knew I could actually do, and when I saw the Giraffe job description the main thing I noticed was the company values, which I knew I could really get on board with. So I was like, “this sounds like fun, let’s try here!”

What are you most looking forward to about working here?

Getting good at table tennis, and also the bake offs - I love baking! Although the standard here has been ridiculously high so I’m going to have to practice.

What's the weirdest thing about the Giraffe team that you’ve noticed since starting here?

Nothing much, at first I found it odd that everybody was bare foot but then I thought, “why not?!”

What was the last picture you took on your phone?

Oh I was on holiday. It was a selfie on the bus that takes you from the terminal to the plane, we were a little delayed because there was too much in the hand luggage...

What actor would play your fictional nemesis?

Oh… I just don’t know! Somebody ridiculously dramatic like Andy Samberg. Just because you’d want to laugh, and I’d imagine my story to be a bit of a comedy. Something like Scott Pilgrim Vs the World… Except not as long… That film is LONG.

What’s the weirdest dream you can remember?

My Nan died (she’s not really dead, I’m pretty sure she’s going to outlive me), and for some reason the amount of money we had inherited was written on ketchup sachets...

If you could have a pet anything what would it be?

Hmm… Well I’d want something practical… potentially a Hippogriff because that would be pretty cool and certainly help me save money on airfare!

Do you ever doubt the existence of others?

Wow, that’s quite existential… No?... I think?...

What question do you hate having to answer?

Where are you from, drives me insane!

Have you ever collected those stickers you get on fruits?

Pretty sure I must have as a child! You know, you get a banana, take the sticker off, stick it on your lunchbox, standard.

Any dietary requirements we should be aware of?

I am allergic to a random additive, but I don’t know what it is yet. So I could eat something and potentially my throat could close, but we don’t know what that is… it adds something of sense of adventure to mealtimes.

Wow. We’ll be sure to keep an eye on that. What's your favourite abstract noun?

I don’t know! Could be dream? You could say I’m a dreamer… But I’m not the only one.

What superpower do you wish you had?

Oh, apparition, 100 percent! You’d just have to leave a second before you had to get somewhere, I’d get so much more sleep. Or the ability to find anything immediately without fail...

Lastly, what is love?

Baby, don’t hurt me.

Simple Social Media Post Structures for Constant Growth

Social Media Post Structures

From small, local producers to huge multi-national corporations, from the up-and-coming influencer to the biggest name in the social game, we can all struggle when it comes to juggling content originality and posting frequency. If you’re looking for continual growth on social media, originality is key…

Social media users are in a position where they have a vast amount of different businesses and organisations vying for their attention on a day to day business. It’s incredibly important to ensure that you grow your pages with the correct audience in mind in order to ensure you are building a community of advocates for your brand. However, even if you have the most die-hard fan base imaginable, sooner or later repeating the same content is going to turn people away.

Constant growth requires commitment to your audience. It’s all too easy to get despondent when your likes begin to tot up, but this is dangerous territory - if anything, at this stage marketers need to invest more and more into their posting strategy in order to ensure that their current audience remains interested and reactive.

Repetitive content turns off consumers, which in turn damages your reach. To keep those guys on your side you need to constantly be reminding them why they liked your brand in the first place. Doing this requires using a variety of social media post structures that invite engagement. Here are a few ideas to help you on your way:

Industry expert knowledge and advice

Providing useful advice and guidance can be valuable content for businesses whose audience follow them for their expert knowledge. Couple this with original, expert content from your own blog and you're on to a winner. The can also be done as single entities without links to external content, however these posts should be limited. Often marketers can over-rely on tips and advice for social media content, and at this point audience members begin to lose interest.

It’s also important that you don’t rely heavily on piggy-backing clichéd post structures such as #WednesdayWisdom, #MondayMotivation and #FridayFeeling. In small portions these can help with reach an engagement, but using them as a primary part of your posting strategy looks lazy and uninspired, a process known at Giraffe as “Pirate Posting”. Yargh.

Topical posts

Using your posts to comment on relevant trending topics when they crop up can be a great way to diversify your strategy and generate significant reach and impact. If you’re savvy enough to make use of the relevant hashtags you put your content in prime position to be discovered by new users.

Be sure you don’t limit yourself to only engage with news and trends from your own industry. Take big media stories such as seasonal events and global tournaments and look these through the lens of your industry. This style of posting often results in a boost in engagement rates because it not only interests your own audience but also wider social media users

Start a social face off

If the trending topic allows, a great way to encourage engagement is to structure your post as a head-to-head and ask users to side with their choice. This can also be done with two similar products or aspects of your industry. Not only can this provoke a discussion, it can also provide beneficial insights into your community’s preferences which will help you to tailor your future content as suits.

Just do more video

Do more video. Whether it’s raw, behind the scenes footage captured by a member of staff or a high-spec professionally produced video of a day in the life of your business, video gets way more engagement than any other type of content. Visual is integral to catching a user's’ eye.

Developments in smartphone technology and social networking features have also made the process of doing live video broadcasts 100 times easier. This is something you should certainly be doing as it literally personifies your brand and makes your audience feel they are part of an exclusive group.

Pose your questions as fill-in-the-blank responses

Every social media manager worth their salt appreciates the importance of asking questions to provoke engagement from their audience. In order to get the largest amount of responses possible it’s a good idea to make the process of responding require little energy.

Fill-in-the-blank quotes are a great way of achieving this. They provide users with a pre-structured response - and also the opportunity to be humorous, which many find hard to resist.

Facebook Messenger Code May Hide Chatroom Feature

Facebook Messenger Hidden Chatroom Feature Rooms

A glance behind Facebook may have revealed an unlaunched feature called Rooms, reminiscent of those notorious public chat rooms of the pre-social nineties and noughties. The hidden feature came to light after developer evangelist Chris Messina discovered that public chats were mentioned inside Messenger’s iOS app code.

TechCrunch have reported that buried deep within Facebook Messenger’s iOS code is an unlaunched feature which allows users to launch chat rooms that can be accessed by both friends and strangers, alongside enhanced sharing capabilities. The report was released following a tip-off by Chris Messina who discovered multiple references to the feature, including a logo and description of the service, found below:

“Rooms are for public conversations about topics and interests. Each room has a link that can be shared so anyone on Messenger can join the conversation.”

Facebook Messenger now tops over one billion monthly users. It is fairly evident that features such as this are intended to bridge the gap for Facebook Groups and the communication channel.

Forums and chatrooms were all the rage in the late nineties and early noughties but went somewhat out of fashion with the development of social networking. Due to the app’s ever-increasing popularity, if the feature is released and accepted by users it could prove a particularly lucrative feature, albeit one that takes inspiration from the vanilla web communication of the past.

This is not the first time that Facebook have experimented with public chatrooms. Back in 2014 a standalone app called Rooms was released. Intended as an entirely separate entity to the social network, Rooms was reportedly inspired by WordPress as a platform for creating public chat forums on specific subjects. However, this gained little traction and, due to a lack of downloads, was discontinued in 2015.

Integrating the feature automatically within Messenger is an ideal way of encouraging interest, should the speculation be true. So far Facebook have only commented saying “We often run small tests- nothing more to share beyond that.”

Our Favourite Social Media Fails of 2016 So Far

social media fails 2016

Social media has it’s fair share of funnies - not all intentional. In fact, some of the funniest funnies have come from misguided social media campaigns. If you make a mistake in marketing the likelihood is pretty soon somebody is going to point it out to you, and no marketing channel is quite at quick (and brutal) at doing that as social networking…

Businesses, be warned. Trolls never sleep. Under no circumstances should you make it easy for them. When it comes to your social media campaign, there is no such thing as over-proofing. Sure, nothing good came out of being overly-cautious and sometimes you have to push boundaries in order to get results. But get it wrong and the internet will let you know.

This year has held some absolute crackers of social media fails. We’ve collected three of our favourites, partly so you can be sure you don’t make similar mistakes, but mostly so we can all have a jolly good laugh at their expense.

DC Comics forgets how to Google

We did a feature on this back in January called “Why DC Comics need to learn how to Google”. While not strictly a social media campaign fail, it was certainly one of the first serious social media controversies of the year. It all started because of a little Editor’s note in the second story inside Superman/Wonder Woman Annual #2, the aptly named “Unsaid”.

In the story a demi-god named Dichara is terrorising the lives of the people of Shimshal, Pakistan. As is customary in comic books when characters are speaking in another language the speech is placed between chevrons and an editor’s note is added. However, this particular editor’s note stated *All translated from Pakistanian, - a language that, most of us will realise, doesn’t actually exist.

When users discovered that a single Google search would have sufficed to confirm that (amongst other common languages) the official language is in fact Urdu the social media backlash was rather large. Perhaps the issue was trying to translate the word “Urdu” into American.

Total Beauty manage to mistake Whoopi Goldberg for Oprah Winfrey

This one was a mix of mistaken identity and campaign coverage. As part of their Oscars night coverage beauty website Total Beauty managed to spark a social media trending discussion with one tweet when their social media manager managed to mix up Whoopi Goldberg and Oprah Winfrey.

The tweet, which was swiftly removed after the uproar, included a picture of Goldberg looking fabulous with a tattoo showing, accompanied with the line “We had no idea Oprah was #tatted, and we love it.” The mistake prompted the start of the hashtag #ThatsNotOprah as users began sharing their own spoof versions of mistaken actors.

They say all PR is good PR, but that night not be the case when that PR is a result of offending both Whoopi and Oprah. As a result the website pledged to donate $10,000 dollars to a charity of the actors’ choice.

Microsoft’s AI Bot goes from zero to racist, xenophobic bigot in a matter of hours

Remember Tay, the AI Bot created by Microsoft who went from innocent machine learning bot to bigoted, racist xenophobe in less than a day? We certainly do. Something of a frightening exposé into what Twitter users will do when left alone, Tay was created to mimic real conversations prompted by other users.

Needless to say it didn’t take long for the trolls to catch on and change her innocent voice into something far more malicious. Inevitably Microsoft caught on and deleted the tweets, but not before we’d all had a jolly good giggle.

What have been your favourite social media fails of the year so far? Tweet us and we’ll include them! @GiraffeSM.

Facebook and Twitter Join News and Eyewitness Media Coalition

Facebook and Twitter Join News Coalition

Facebook and Twitter have become confirmed partners in a new coalition of news organisations committed to tackling misinformation on social networking, and improving the quality of reporting across media.

Organised and announced by the Google-backed First Draft News, the coalition is an expansion into a new partner network intended to “tackle issues of trust and truth in reporting information that emerges online”.

Originally formed in June 2015, with support from Google News Lab, and developed with its founding members to ‘raise awareness and standards around the use of newsworthy information and eyewitness media sourced from the social web’, it now boasts a partner list of influential news organisations including: The New York Times, Channel 4 News, The Telegraph, Agence France-Presse and Aljazeera Media Network.

In the announcement, First Draft managing director Jenni Sargent shared the vision for the partner network:

“There is a thriving community of specialists working around the world who have developed and honed social newsgathering and verification skills… With the launch of this partner network, First Draft brings these people together to work on ideas and initiatives, including a train-the-trainer programme, the launch of a collaborative verification platform, and the creation of a voluntary code of practice.”

Facebook inclusion in the partner list has significantly positive implications for both the coalition and the site itself. The social networking giant is fundamental to the distribution and gathering of news but has come under fire for being a contributing factor to the spread of erroneous information and bogus news stories. The partner network is intended to streamline the process of verification of information, particularly with eyewitness media, giving tech companies a central port to improve newsgathering and the quality of reporting across social web.

Áine Kerr is Facebook’s journalism partnerships manager. She believes that the network will give them a platform to showcase the products and tools they have built for journalists, whilst giving them another opportunity to learn and improve. She commented:

“We want to ensure we are building opportunities to learn from the industry and to ensure we continually hear their questions and feedback.”

Instagram Comments and How to Respond to Them

Responding to Instagram Comments

Over the past few years we’ve seen a change in the way that users view particular social networks. As the primary reasons why they visit each particular network shifts, so too do businesses need to alter how they market within those networks. In this endeavour some companies struggle; looking at why their audience are active somewhere, not just where they are active.

And it’s an understandable struggle because those reasons are always changing.

While it continues to eclipse its contenders in terms of total numbers of users and name recognition, at the moment Facebook is not the number-one choice for users looking to share snapshots of their own lives and engage with that of their friends and family. This owes in part to its position as the most popular medium for B2C businesses to market to their audience, but it’s also down to the nature of newly developed trending and viral content discovery tools.

It’s not necessarily a bad thing that users wouldn’t choose to use Facebook for this particular reason, as the communication and video discovery aspect of Facebook has taken more prominence for the time being. A subset of users are turning to less traditional more “personal” networks for this sort of action, in particular Instagram. (That’s another reason why it’s not necessarily a bad thing - Facebook own Instagram and content is often automatically posted to Facebook anyway.)

With Instagram now seen in this totally human, completely authentic light, businesses need to interact in kind or risk ruining it for everybody.

Responding to Instagram comments

An endeavour that businesses need to be embracing in far more readily on Instagram is responding to comments. Interaction is the cornerstone of growth and the kindling for engagement. Yet many allow it to be swept under the carpet - the very same companies who wouldn’t dare ignore a Facebook comment or a tweet.

Instagram is driven by the lives of individuals, their brand is built on the real-life stories that these people share. Getting serious about their strategy starts with businesses and organisations getting human and social. Look at the tips below and consider how you could alter your current responses for the best results:

Weighing up comments and responding justly

When users comment on your Instagram content you should always consider the right way to respond. Instagram is awash with single-emoji response-style comments. As a general rule you shouldn’t respond to all of these otherwise, as your account grows and frequency of these increases, you risk having a far too many of your own words hanging around the place.

When it comes to longer comments, discipline yourself to notice genuine praise and positivity from users. Responding to these is where you can really unlock the potential of Instagram interaction. Always acknowledge and express your gratitude, use open comments and look inspire a discussion with this user. As others see how you engage with people who take the time to interact with you they will feel encouraged to do the same.

Bear in mind that some Instagram automation services are a lot cleverer than you think, particularly Instagress. If a comment seems positive, yet a little unclear, chances are it’s automated. Consider these comments in relation to the image and ensure they actually make sense before bothering to respond.

Never ignore a negative comment

This number one rule should stand for all of your social pages. Always respond to negative comments. For a more in-depth look into how to do that, check out our article on how to deal with negativity on social media.  A general rule is to consider how people see your brand. Try to see things from the user’s perspective even if the particular issue isn’t your fault entirely.

Whereas other networks might allow you to reach out and sort any issues there and then, Instagram simply doesn't have enough space for this kind of resolution, os it’s worth reaching out and encouraging them to contact in a more private medium - just ensure that the issue is swiftly rectified afterwards, otherwise you will just exacerbate things.

Say an unequivocal ‘no’ to spamming and bots

Bots and spam help absolutely nobody. Help Instagram get rid of them by reporting and blocking users who spam you with comments and mentions. If they tag you in spam content, click the settings button in the top right hand corner above the image and remove it, then report and block the user.

Be part of the community

Above anything else, Instagram is a community of content creators, sharing their experiences and engaging with that of other people. Integrate your business or organisation by doing just that - be human, share snapshots of your work life, engage with relevant people and respond to anybody who reaches out to you. This is where things start to build and brand recognition gets elevated to new heights.

LinkedIn Announces Conversion Tracking Capabilities

LinkedIn announces conversion tracking

In a move to make the network more appealing for advertisers, LinkedIn yesterday announced the introduction of conversion tracking capabilities for LinkedIn Campaign Manager. The new features will allow marketers access to better insights into their Sponsored Content and Text Ads campaigns, giving them a greater understanding of what the most valuable is in relation to their specific goals.

This week the most popular professional social network announced conversion tracking on a post on their Marketing Solutions blog. The new features have been introduced in response to the wide amount of requests by customers for more in-depth insight into the success of their LinkedIn ad campaigns.

Most notably, marketers have been requesting features that allow them to garner a greater understanding of which sections of their audience are driving campaign conversion, an insight which conversion tracking is cited to give. According to their announcement, it will give audience insights based on a number of factors including company size, industry, seniority and job function.

Having already been piloted with over 200 different advertisers, conversion tracking will also give users a far more accurate and accessible measure for a variety of different results, including lead generation, purchases, content downloads and sign-ups. These insights benefit advertisers by allowing them the ability to optimise their campaigns through the use of data for even better results.

Three particular positives were highlighted in the post...

Track the metrics that matter the most:
Easily track website conversions from your LinkedIn programs… [allowing you to] understand your LinkedIn advertising ROI, conversion count, cost-per-conversion, conversion rate and more…

Record every conversion, every time:
Track conversions from desktop and mobile, whether members converted after clicking on -- or after just viewing -- one of your ads.

Optimise your campaigns to drive even better performance:
Monitor the specific campaigns, ads, and the nature of the audiences that are driving conversions…

The announcement comes little under a month after news of the social network’s sale to Microsoft for $26.2bn, and is evidence that LinkedIn are serious about becoming the go-to social media marketing solution for B2B businesses.

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