After expanding its character limit for tweets a few years ago, Twitter is testing a new feature called Notes that lets users ditch character limits altogether.

The company confirmed testing the new feature in a tweet, along with a longer Note explaining everything Notes can do:

“Notes will give people the ability to go over 280 characters on Twitter in a single piece of content, with the inclusion of photos, videos, GIFs, and Tweets. Notes can be written, published, and shared on Twitter, and read all across the Internet.”

Unfortunately for most of us, the feature is initially being tested among a select number of writers in the US, UK, Canada, and Ghana. 

As the announcement explains:

“We’re excited for the moment when everyone can use Notes, but for now, our focus is on building it right. A large part of that is engaging with writers and building community.”

Notably, the feature does not appear to be replacing Twitter threads, at least for now:

“There are situations, however, where threads aren’t enough. From the rise of the screenshot announcement Tweet to the newsletter boom, a new reality became clear: people were writing long elsewhere, and then coming to Twitter to share their work and for the conversation surrounding all those words.”

In the announcement, Twitter also detailed a few unique features which will make Notes attractive to those looking to publish longer content:

  • Formatting: Formatting tools included bold, italic, and strikethrough text, as well as the ability to add links and create lists.
  • Include Media: Notes can include one GIF, one video, or up to four static images.
  • Embedded Tweets: Include traditional tweets in Notes by pasting a URL or from your bookmarked tweets.

Facebook is preparing for a major overhaul of its main feed to turn it into a “discovery engine” geared towards video content, based on a newly leaked internal memo.

The memo, written by Head of Facebook Tom Alison, was first sent to employees on April 27, though it was only recently obtained and published by The Verge. This suggests the changes to the main feed may be coming sooner rather than later, however, the memo does not give a date for the update to arrive.

What Is a Discovery Engine?

It may seem like corporate jargon, but the move towards being a ‘discovery engine’ indicates a major change in priorities for how Facebook’s main feed functions.

In general, the term ‘discovery engine’ simply refers to helping users find more interesting content from accounts or pages they are not connected to. What makes this such a big change is that Facebook has always focused on content shared by connections like friends and family.

This opens the door for Facebook to become more of a general content aggregator than the more personal social network it has always been.

Facebook’s Top Three Priorities

In the memo, Alison identifies three near-term priorities that the social network believes will help create a place where people can find and share engaging content. These are:

  • Make Reels successful.
  • Build world-class recommendations technology.
  • Unlock messaging-based sharing.

By focusing on these three goals, the platform aims to expand the ways people publish and share content with each other.

What Will The New Facebook Feed Look Like?

While the memo does not go into many specifics about what the new Facebook feed will look like, The Verge’s Alex Heath spoke with Alison to find out how he is envisioning the new feed experience:

“Here’s how the future Facebook app will work in practice: the main tab will become a mix of Stories and Reels at the top, followed by posts its discovery engine recommends from across both Facebook and Instagram. It’ll be a more visual, video-heavy experience with clearer prompts to direct message friends a post. To make messaging even more prominent, Facebook is working on placing a user’s Messenger inbox at the top right of the app, undoing the infamous decision to separate the two apps eight years ago.”

No one likes receiving a bad review. Not only do they affect your company’s morale, but they can also easily scare off future customers if they check your reviews – and they will almost certainly read your reviews. Studies have shown that 98% of consumers read online reviews before doing business with a local company.

At the same time, there is usually very little you can do about a legitimate negative online review. In most cases, the best solution is to be humble, apologize for not delivering the quality service or products expected, and do your best to make it right.

Still, there are a few types of reviews that require more extreme responses. Thankfully, when dealing with fake, spammy, or inappropriate reviews, you may be able to get the offending reviews deleted entirely.

When Can a Review Be Deleted?

There are strict rules about what types of reviews can be deleted. 

For obvious reasons, complaints that appear to be legitimate complaints about a poor experience with your brand can not be deleted. 

However, Google can remove reviews for your business if they break the company’s policies and guidelines. These include rules banning deceptive, explicit, or irrelevant. Below, we will talk a bit more about exactly what violations may make a review subject to removal.

Offensive Content

As described by Google, offensive content may include any sort of content “that is clearly and deliberately provocative.”

This includes any form of hate speech or harassment, as well as reviews containing personal information.

Deceptive Content

Misleading or inaccurate reviews are a regular occurrence online. In some cases, competitors may try to hurt your reputation by manufacturing a poor experience. Personal conflicts between individuals may also boil over and result in negative reviews in an effort to get an individual fired.

This is why Google does not allow any review that is not an accurate representation of a real experience with a brand.

Mature Content

To ensure content on the search engine remains safe for all users, Google will delete any reviews containing profanity, sexually explicit content, adult themes, or graphic violence.

Regulated or Illegal Content

Reviews may not contain calls to action for products or services which may be subject to local legal restrictions. Additionally, Google warns that dangerous activities or illegal content will get reviews removed.

Irrelevant Content

Lastly, reviews must be related to an actual experience with a company’s products or services. That means rants, off-topic content, or attempts to promote one’s own products are subject to removal.

How To Get an Online Review Removed

Obviously, brands can not directly delete reviews from their Google Business Profiles. Instead, a company representative must report a review for removal through Google Search or Google Maps.

Once reported, Google will assess the review and determine if it violates any of the platform’s policies. Though this process may take several days, brands can also mitigate the damage of a misleading or inappropriate review with a response explaining the reality of the situation and noting that the review has been reported to Google.

LinkedIn is making it easier to find and follow creators across the platform through a series of new updates announced this week.

The professional social network has been emphasizing its platform’s content publishing tools over the past few years. The goal is to make it easier for individual figures and brands to stand out on the platform by sharing interesting anecdotes, important professional updates, and motivational insights.

These updates continue that theme by opening new ways for those who don’t share connections on the site to discover your content and opt-in to see more of your content in their feed.

Here’s a breakdown of all the new ways users can find, follow, and share your content to increase your visibility on LinkedIn:

Follow Creators Directly from The Feed

When people who aren’t connected to your page see your content in their feed, they will now be able to immediately follow you through a small button in the top right of the post. Additionally, users may be shown a prompt below the post, providing a larger more noticeable call to follow you.

Follow Creators From LinkedIn Search Results

LinkedIn is going to start including creators who are tagged with relevant hashtags in search results for topics or ideas. Even better, the listings will include a small icon allowing users to immediately start following you.

Share Links To Your Profile

To make it easier to reach users on other platforms or sites, LinkedIn is working on a tool that will let you create a shareable link to your page. Anyone who clicks the link will then be taken to a prompt that will allow them to start following your posts on LinkedIn.

New Connections Requests Become Followers

Now, when a user sends a request to connect with your page, they will automatically be added to your followers – if they weren’t following you already.

Instagram is rolling out an update that expands its sensitive content filter in ways that may reduce how many people see some content.

Though the Sensitive Content Control was launched almost a year ago, in July 2021, the tool only influenced the type of content users saw in their Explore feed.

According to a new announcement, though, the newly updated version of this tool lets users control how much “sensitive content” they see across practically every section of Instagram including:

  • Search
  • Reels
  • Accounts You Might Follow
  • Hashtag Pages
  • In-Feed Recommendations
  • How Instagram is Controlling Sensitive Content

As the company explained, this does more than limit obviously inappropriate content, including graphic violence or illegal acts. It also covers “posts that don’t necessarily break our rules, but could potentially be upsetting to some people.”

This includes, but is not limited to:

  • Content showing violence, including fighting between individuals
  • Sexually explicit or suggestive content, such as people in see-through or revealing clothing
  • Content promoting controversial or dangerous products such as tobacco, vaping, adult products, or pharmaceutical drugs
  • Content promoting or showing cosmetic procedures
  • Content or pages which sell products or services targeting health, including weight-loss supplements

Following the new update, users can select between three different levels of sensitive content moderation:

  • Less: Restricts sensitive content to the greatest amount
  • Standard: The default state for all users, which automatically limits some sensitive content
  • More: Users over the age of 18 can opt-in to see the widest range of content, including sensitive content which does not directly violate Instagram’s rules and guidelines.

Why This Matters

While most upstanding brands are normally unaffected by these types of updates, this could potentially have a much wider effect on companies or pages across a huge range of industries. 

The undefined nature of what constitutes “sensitive content” raises eyebrows, especially when it includes some content many users may not find controversial or objectionable. Additionally, users are having some content filtered out by default and must essentially opt out of this tool if they are of age. 

This creates the potential for Instagram to start limiting the reach of content from many companies who had previously found success using the platform to reach their audience. How large the impact of this is yet to be seen. If you see a significant drop in the number of people seeing your Instagram posts in the next few weeks though, you probably know why.

As social networks have grown into the central platforms most people use to find all sorts of information (including trends, news, and everything else), their feed algorithms have likewise grown in influence. They dictate what information you take in, what you buy, and how you see the world.

Due to this and the fact that the inner workings of these algorithms tend to be well-guarded secrets, these feed algorithms also tend to be surrounded with myths and misunderstandings. In attempting to reverse engineer these algorithms to better understand how to get the greatest reach, incorrect assumptions become accepted as fact which is allowed to spread without a clear explanation from the developers behind these feeds.

That’s why LinkedIn’s VP of Engineering, Sabry Tozin, is using a new blog and video series called “Mythbusting The Feed” to set the record straight on how the professional-focused social network surfaces content.

In the first set of videos, Tozin starts out addressing two questions:

  • “What kind of conversations are welcomed on LinkedIn?”
  • “What does it mean to be professional when it comes to content on LinkedIn?”

Here’s what he had to say.

What Kind of Conversations Are Preferred By LinkedIn’s Feed Algorithms?

While LinkedIn technically allows for posts about any topic, it is obvious that the feed algorithms prefer content that is authentic and relevant to other users. 

Since the platform is aimed at connecting professionals around the world, these discussions tend to be related to issues experienced by leaders and workers, such as the experience of switching to working from home, how you approach your career, or recent news from your business.

As Tovin says:

“We welcome all sorts of conversations on LinkedIn, but primarily we want to have conversations that people care about. Where the things they talk about, and the content they generate, are about things that are authentic to them, and resonate with them, but also make them feel like they’re connected to their communities.”

In the video, he also notes that LinkedIn sees a lot of activity around topics that may not be easy to discuss in person or at the office:

“Another thing we’ve seen is conversations that may be hard to talk about like mental health and wellbeing, other than productivity and how people think about working, but what that truly means to them.

We see LinkedIn as a place to have that conversation, and our technology teams are finding ways to enable that, to keep it safe, and for members to feel like this is a place where they can actually talk about everything that’s authentic to them.”

Does Content on LinkedIn Need To Be Strictly Professional?

As a social network targeted at professionals, there is an assumption that the platform’s algorithms will favor content that is formal, purely related to careers or industries, or strictly “professional”. 

Of course, this forgets that LinkedIn is a social network first and foremost. As such, it blurs the line between personal and professional, allowing you to celebrate personal growth which may only be tangentially related to your career. 

For example, it is not uncommon for content related to a range of personal milestones such as getting married, reaching a personal goal like weight loss, or overcoming an obstacle that may have been holding you back.

As the video explains:

“Think of LinkedIn as a place to have an authentic conversation and not limit it to one topic or another because so many of those things go hand in hand.”

More To Come

In the coming weeks, Sabry says he will discuss even more about how LinkedIn’s feed algorithms work and common myths about the algorithms including:

  • How the Algorithm Works and Personalizing The Feed
  • Content Distribution and How LinkedIn Works To Address Bias

As part of its big Google Marketing Live event this week, the search engine announced a big makeover is coming to some shopping ads in the near future.

Initially limited to apparel-related shopping results, Google is revamping both online ads and organic listings to be more visually exciting and drive more engagement.

You can get a  preview of what to expect below:

Swipeable Google Shopping Ads

The revamp brings shopping ads more in-line with the more visual organic listings which have been rolling out since last year.

Google is accomplishing this using Search or Performance Max ad campaigns, though the images or graphics must be provided by advertisers.

As the company described the makeover:

“These will be clearly labeled as ads and will be eligible to appear in dedicated ad slots throughout the page. We’re also rolling out new ways to showcase multiple product images within Shopping ads in the U.S., along with information such as product descriptions, reviews, and product availability, with no further action required of advertisers.”

Though it is unclear when this revamp will be rolled out, advertisers should be excited by the more stylish and engaging presentation when it arrives.

Advertising has undergone a massive shift in recent years. Instead of the sleek, high-end style that many associates with ads, consumers (and a growing number of brands) are embracing a more lo-fi, “imperfect” approach to ads. According to new research from Meta, this is especially true when it comes to social media ads.

In a recent blog post, Meta suggests this is about more than a change in visual trends. It is a shift in cultural standards and expectations, or “culture codes.”

As the post explains, this is “being driven by something more fundamental, which is a shift we’re seeing away from perfection and polish, towards a culture that instead celebrates what’s unpolished and real.”

Though it is unclear just how long this shift has been happening, Meta first noticed it in a study of Instagram Stories ads conducted back in 2019. 

The results of this study showed that ads that used a less-polished style performed far better in tests for both ad recall and content views compared to those with a more refined appearance.

This is particularly true for younger audiences who tend to spend a lot of time on social media. In a recent study from consumer behavior analysts YPulse, up to 84% of young consumers reported “I like it when content from brands is not perfect” and  79% said they are “tired of seeing perfect images in advertising.”

With this in mind, the researchers at Meta dug deeper to identify 6 specific codes that brands should follow if they want to continue connecting with online audiences:

Include Real People Telling Real Stories

Including real people – especially your actual employees or customers – helps to give your message authenticity. This is crucial for getting through to today’s savvy audiences.

Use “The Language of the Platform”

Obviously, we aren’t referring to the actual language you or other users speak, such as English, Spanish, Afrikaans, etc. In this case, speaking the language of the platform is all about proving you are “one of us” to other users by taking part in the latest trends, such as participating in “challenges”, putting a new spin on a popular dance, or using the hottest filters.

This helps establish your brand’s relatability to your audience.

Establish Relationships with Creators and Influencers

No matter what your feelings are about social media influencers, there is no denying the impact they can have on social media audiences.

According to Meta, even adults aren’t immune to the reach of influencers, with 63% of adults between 18-34 saying they trust a popular creator’s view of a brand.

This is considerably more than those who reported trusting brands themselves.

The power of influencers really comes down to the fact that they have established a relationship with their viewers and have an incomparable reach. This helps build your own credibility with a whole new audience you might have never reached before.

Go Behind The Scenes

When users say they don’t want to see “perfection” in ads, they don’t necessarily mean they want low-quality or poorly made ads. They just want to know your message is based in reality. This is why viewers tend to respond strongly to brands who are willing to take them behind the curtain. 

Keep Your Video Lo-Fi

Today, it is easier than ever to get access to affordable editing and production tools that can make your ad look like a Hollywood movie. Don’t use them. Sticking with simpler, lo-fi editing and production techniques, such as the most popular editing apps for smartphones, keeps your ad feeling authentic and hand-crafted.

Use Humor to Connect With Audiences

Humor is consistently one of the most effective tools for getting audiences to lower their guard. It makes your brand more relatable and makes listeners want to hear what else you have to say. The obvious catch here is that brands must be careful because several brands have made tone-deaf jokes which missed the mark and hurt their reputation.

In a blog post from this week, LinkedIns Chief Product Officer Tomer Cohen shares updates about the latest improvements to the platform’s search engine, accessibility features, and the content brands can share in feeds. 

Though these updates might seem scattered or disconnected, they are all united by one theme. LinkedIn is making it easier for users to find relevant and useful content, especially from brands on the platform.

Updates to LinkedIn Search

LinkedIn is expanding its search results to include news, topics, trends, and more from connections and relevant content from creators related to your search.

As Cohen explains in the blog post:

“If you’re interested in a particular topic when you search for it you’ll see the latest insights, expert opinions, and other breaking news. From finding the right people, communities, companies, jobs, or content, you can now make progress on any professional goal by simply searching for the topic you have in mind.”

The biggest change coming from this is the introduction of content from people outside your network, though the networking platform promises to only include “relevant creators.”

Additionally, the search engine is being improved to make it easier to “re-discover” posts you’ve already seen in your feed. 

Now, you can find something you’ve seen before on your Feed by searching with just the creator’s name and keywords used in their post.

Share Reviews (If You’re a Service Provider)

Any business knows the power of reviews. Up to 95% of consumers look for reviews before making a purchase, according to some estimates. Reviews also make a greater impact than most other types of content because they are authentic.

This is why LinkedIn is making it possible for the 4 million service providers on the site to share recent reviews with other users.

In a similar vein, Cohen notes service providers can also hight examples of their work in the new Featured section of the page.

Customized Referral Links For Creators

To help entrepreneurs and creators boost their visibility, LinkedIn is introducing the ability to add a link to the top of a profile to make it easier to find out more about your business or upcoming events.

With this, you can direct people checking out your content to pages about your business, upcoming events or courses you are offering, or other pages for your products or services.

Though the feature is currently only accessible to those in creator mode, Cohen does note it will be rolled out more broadly soon.

Real-Time Captions for Audio Events

Audio events have been massively popular for LinkedIn, but there has been one glaring issue: they were completely inaccessible to those with hearing impairments, or those who weren’t in an environment that allowed for listening to content.

To fix this, the platform has made real-time captions available for English-language users. This way,  your audio events can be open and relevant for all.

To find out more, read the full blog post here.

Despite Google being very clear about its feelings on paying for SEO links (hint: it is not a fan), I still regularly come across stories of brands spending hundreds or even thousands of dollars on links that promise to increase their rankings.

Typically, these individuals have heard success stories from others who had recently bought a ton of SEO backlinks and saw their own site jump to the top of search results. Unfortunately, this is rarely the end of the story. 

Today, I wanted to highlight a more complete example of what happens when you pay for links and why.

The Full Story of Someone Who Spent $5,000 on SEO Links

In this instance, I came across someone who had spent thousands of dollars on links for SEO purposes through Search Engine Journal’s “Ask an SEO” column. In the most recent edition of this weekly article, a person named Marlin lays out their situation.

“I paid over $5,000 for SEO link building.”

From the outset, it is unclear if Marlin knew exactly what they had gotten into. While it is possible they directly purchased links from a website, there is also the potential that Marlin and their company put their trust in a questionable marketing agency that purchased or generated spammy links to “boost” rankings.

This is important because it is very common for online SEO packages to include “link building services” which are actually accomplished through link farms that will inevitably be identified and shut down. This is why it is crucial to know that the people handling your link-building efforts use proven, Google-approved strategies rather than cutting corners.

“At first, traffic was boosted.”

As promised, the initial result of buying links is frequently a quick spike in your search engine rankings. Even better, this payoff seems to come much more quickly than the rankings boosts seen from traditional link-building efforts. In some cases, you might even get a huge boost to your rankings within a week or two of paying for the service!

However, the story isn’t over.

“We then lost our rankings on those keywords and our traffic is gone!”

Despite the initially promising results, this is the inevitable conclusion of every story about paying for links.

In the best-case scenario, Google simply ignores your newly acquired low-quality links – putting you right back where you started. In some cases, depending on how widespread the link scheme appears to be, you can wind up even worse than when you began.

If Google believes you have a persistent habit of trying to manipulate search rankings, your site may receive a penalty that significantly impairs your rankings. In the worst cases, your site can be removed from search results entirely.

Why Paid Links Inevitably Fail

There is a very simple reason this story followed a predictable pattern. Google explicitly forbids any sort of “unnatural links” or link schemes. Additionally, the search engine has invested huge amounts of time and resources to identify these artificial links.

At the same time, Google is locked into a game of whack-a-mole where new link sellers are popping up all the time – which is why their links may help your rankings for a very short time.

In SEO, shortcuts are rarely as great as they appear. If you’re looking for long-term, sustainable success, the only option is to roll up your sleeves and build links the old-fashioned way: by creating great content and building real relationships with other members of your industry.

It won’t be quick and it won’t be easy, but it will be worth it in the long run.