Category Archives: Social Media

Facebook lets some group admins charge members for access

You already give Facebook your data, so why not throw a little cold, hard cash into the mix as well. 

Just bear with me here. So, you're following your favorite creator on the social network created in a dorm room, but because of that pesky algorithm her posts never show up in your Newsfeed. That's OK, you can still join her group! And now, thanks to a subscription-group test announced today by the advertising juggernaut, you may just have the pleasure of paying for that special access. 

According to a Wednesday press release, Facebook is trying out giving group admins the ability to charge their members subscription fees for special sub-groupsTechCrunch reports that the fees will range from $4.99 to $29.99 a month.   Read more...

More about Facebook, Social Media, Subscriptions, Tech, and Social Media Companies

#Postcards4Families fundraising campaign lets kids help separated families at the border

It's hard not to feel helpless as details regarding the more than 2,300 kids who've been separated from their parents at the U.S. and Mexico border continue to come out — including heart-shattering audio from child detention centers.

After brainstorming ways to raise awareness about the harrowing effects of the Trump administration's "zero-tolerance" policy, a group of academics came up with a way to help: Writing postcards that accompany donations to help separated families and call on those in power to act.

More about Kids, Social Good, Campaign, Social Media, and Trump Immigration

Instagram hits 1 billion monthly users, up from 800M in September

Instagram’s meteoric rise continues, dwarfing the stagnant growth rates of Snapchat and Facebook. Today Instagram announced that it has reached 1 billion monthly active users, after reaching 800 million in September 2017 with 500 million daily users.

That massive audience could be a powerful draw for IGTV, the longer-form video hub its launching for creators today. While IGTV monetization options are expected in the future, content makers may flock to it early just to get exposure and build their fan base.

While Snapchat’s daily user count grew just 2.13 percent in Q1 2018 to 191 million, and Facebook’s monthly count grew 3.14 percent to reach 2.196 billion, Instagram is growing closer to 5 percent per quarter.

Hitting the 1 billion user milestone could put more pressure on Instagram to carry its weight in the Facebook family and bring home more cash. Facebook doesn’t break out Instagram’s revenue and has never given any guidance about it. But eMarketer estimates that Instagram will generate $5.48 billion in US ad revenue in 2018, up 70 percent from last year. It reports that Instagram makes up 28.2 pecent of Facebook’s mobile ad revenue.

The Instagram brand increasingly looks like Facebook’s life raft. Sentiment towards Facebook, especially amongst teens, has been in decline, and its constantly rocked by privacy scandals. But many users don’t even realize Facebook owns Instagram, and still love the photo sharing app. With the 1 billion user badge, businesses and content creators may take the photo and video app even more seriously. Selling windows into your friends’ worlds is a lucrative business.

Instagram launches IGTV app for creators, 1-hour video uploads

Instagram is ready to compete head on with YouTube. Today at a flashy event in San Francisco, the company announced it will begin allowing users to upload videos up to 1 hour in length, up from the previous 1 minute limit. And to house the new longer-form videos from star content creators, Instagram is launching IGTV. Accessible from a button atop the Instagram homescreen or a standalone app, IGTV will spotlight popular videos from Instagram celebrities.

The launch confirms TechCrunch’s scoops over the past month outlining the features and potential of IGTV that we said would arrive today, following the WSJ’s report that Instagram would offer videos up to an hour in length.

“It’s time for video to move forward, and evolve” said Instagram CEO Kevin Systrom on stage at the event. “IGTV is for watching long-from videos from your favorite creators.”

Instagram’s press event just started, but the Instagram Business blog has already been updated with all the details of today’s launch.

Kevin Systrom on stage at the IGTV launch

IGTV will let anyone be a creator, not just big name celebrities. People will be able to upload vertical videos through Instagram’s app or the web. Everyone except smaller and new accounts will be able to upload hour-long videos immediately, with that option expanding to everyone eventually. The IGTV will be available globally on iOS and Android sometime today, as well as in th Instagram app. “We made it a dedicated app so you can tap on it andenjoy video without all the distraction” Systrom explained.

In IGTV’s dedicated app or its in-Instagram experience, viewers will be able to swipe through a variety of longer-form videos, or swipe up to visit a Browse tab of personally recommend videos, popular videos, creators they’re following, and the option to continue watching previously started videos. Users will also get callouts from the IGTV button alerting them to new content.

IGTV will also let creators develop Instagram Channels full of their different videos that people can subscribe to. Creators will be able to put links in the description of their videos to drive traffic elsewhere.

“There’s no ads in IGTV today” says Systrom, but he says it’s a “a very reasonable place for them to end up”. He explained that since creators are investing a lot of time into IGTV videos, he wants to make that sustainable by offering them a way to monetize in the future. Instagram isn’t paying any creators directly for IGTV videos either.

With 1 billion users on Instagram, IGTV could be popular with creators not only trying to earn money but grow their audience. Instagram is expected to build out a monetization option for IGTV creators, potentially including ad revenue shares. The big user base could also attract advertisers. eMarketer already expects Instagram to earn $5.48 billion in US ad revenue in 2018.

Instagram has evolved far beyond the initial simplicity of just filtering and sharing photos. When it launched, mobile networks, screens, and cameras weren’t ready for longer-form video, and neither were users. As more families cut the cord or teens ignore television all together, though, Instagram has an opportunity to become the TV of mobile. YouTube may always have a wider breadth of content. But through curation of creators and publishers’ video content, Instagram could become the reliable place to watch something great on the small screen.

Facebook tests “subscription Groups” that charge for exclusive content

Facebook is starting to let Group admins charge $4.99 to $29.99 per month for access to special sub-Groups full of exclusive posts. A hand-picked array of parenting, cooking, and ‘organize my home’ Groups will be the first to get the chance to spawn a subscription Group open to their members.

During the test, Facebook won’t be taking a cut, but since the feature bills through iOS and Android, they’ll get their 30 percent cut of a user’s first year of subscription and 15 percent after that. But if Facebook eventually did ask for a revenue share, it could finally start to monetize the Groups feature that’s grown to over 1 billion users.

The idea for subscription Groups originally came from the admins. “It’s not so much about making money as it is investing in their community” says Facebook Groups product manager Alex Deve. “The fact that there will be funds coming out of the activity helps them create higher quality content.” Some admins tell Facebook they actually want to funnel subscription dues back into activities their Group does together offline.

Content users might get in the exclusive version of groups include video tutorials, lists of tips, and support directly from admins themselves. For example, Sandra Mueller’s Declutter My Home Group is launching a $14.99 per month Organize My Home subscription Group that will teach members how to stay tidy with checklists and video guides. The Grown and Flown Parents group is spawning a College Admissions and Affordability subscription group with access to college counselors for $29.99. Cooking On A Budget: Recipes & Meal Planning will launch a $9.99 Meal Planning Central Premium subscription group with weekly meal plans, shopping lists for different grocery stores, and more.

But the point of the test is actually to figure out what admins would post and whether members find it valuable. “They have their own ideas. We want to see how that is going to evolve” says Deve.

Here’s how subscription Groups work. First, a user must be in a larger group where the admin has access to the subscription options and posts an invitation for members to check it out. They’ll see preview cards outlining what exclusive content they’ll get access to and how much it costs. If they want to join, the admin vets their application, and if they’re approved they’re charged the monthly fee right away.

They’ll be billed on that date each month, and if they cancel, they’ll still have access until the end of the month. That prevents anyone from joining a group and scraping all the content without paying the full price. The whole system is a bit similar to subscription patronage platform Patreon, but with a Group and its admin at the center instead of some star creator.

Back in 2016, Facebook briefly tested showing ads in Groups, but now says that was never rolled out. However, the company says that admins want other ways beyond subscriptions to build revenue from Groups and it’s considering the possibilities. Facebook didn’t have any more to share on this, but perhaps one day it will offer a revenue split from ads shown within groups.

Between subscriptions, ad revenue shares, tipping, sponsored content, and product placement — all of which Facebook is testing — creators are suddenly flush with monetization options. While we spent the last few decades of the consumer internet scarfing up free content, creativity can’t be a labor of love forever. Letting creators earn money could help them turn their passion into their profession and dedicate more time to making things people love.

GoFundMe now allows team fundraising, where multiple people collaborate to raise money

GoFundMe, the popular service for raising money for causes with some $5 billion raised to date, is expanding its platform to serve more community efforts: today the company is launching GoFundMe Team Fundraising, which lets groups of people collectively raise money for a single effort. The idea is that it will make it possible for schools, churches, sports teams, and other groups to set up fundraising campaigns on GoFundMe.

In many cases, groups have traditionally relied on people to use offline methods to raise money for a single cause, or if people have used digital platforms, harnessing those individual campaigns has not been straightforward.

The idea with GoFundMe’s team product is that the organization that is raising the money can create the main repository, and then link up individuals to that anchor so that they can collect contributions directly. Then those contributions can all feed into the main goal as they go along, and campaign leaders can run leaderboards to show how they are progressing. Early tests of the Team feature have included sports teamsschool groups raising money for travel to an event; work teams raising for a cause; and local communities.

As with GoFundMe’s other fundraising options, there is no platform fee for starting or running a team campaign, as GoFundMe has now switched to a “tips” model. (There are still standard card processing fees.)

“Before, when a sports team, school club, professional organization or other group was looking to raise money together, the options were limited and could take a lot of time and resources in order to execute successfully,” said Rob Solomon, CEO of GoFundMe, in a statement. “With GoFundMe Team Fundraising, we’re introducing an easy social fundraising solution to maximize reach and success for groups.These new tools will also give our existing community another way to fundraise. Our goal is to make fundraising faster, easier and more efficient for anyone looking to raise money, whether an individual, nonprofit or team.”

The move to expand to a team option is somewhat overdue for GoFundMe: fundraising in groups either for something for that group, or for a cause supported by that group, is one of the more popular ways of driving and getting donations. GoFundMe has built a strong business around individuals starting campaigns for specific causes, so this, in a way, is part of a second wave of expansion for the company.

It’s not coming a moment too soon. GoFundMe is currently the market leader when it comes to fundraising platforms, but it is facing very strong competition in the form of Facebook. The social networking behemoth has been working hard to expand its own fundraising services (which also has a team element) as part of its strategy to highlight its role as a community builder and strengthener (and not just a place to get your entertainment and news fixes). A move today to build stronger bridges with non-profits — it launched Workplace for Good, a free tier of its Slack-competing enterprise product for publicly-focused organisations — will only strengthen its credibility with them.

And separate to that, Facebook is in the process of scoring a huge win for its team-based fundraising efforts at the moment, as three people (who all happen to be ex-Facebook employees) are using Facebook to raise money to support the families who are getting separated at the US/Mexico border. The campaign has gone viral and is now close to raising $10 million, originally aiming for a mere $1,500. Given GoFundMe’s extremely astute use of social media to help spread the word about its own campaigns, it will well understand the significance of that turn of events.

GoFundMe is also running several campaigns related to the wider effort to help these families.

Hot knife ASMR videos are therapy for your retinas

This post is part of Hard Refresh, a soothing weekly column where we try to cleanse your brain of whatever terrible thing you just witnessed on Twitter.

The internet can be a stressful place, but if you know where to look it can also provide a much-needed sense of relief.

For example, after a long day of screaming at Twitter, fielding push notification from Donald Trump, and fending off trolls, I occasionally enjoy sitting back, relaxing, and watching videos of hot knives melting stuff.

It may sound strange. It may sound devious and even slightly concerning. But trust me, it's harmless and soothing AF. You know what? Here, let me just show you... Read more...

More about Videos, Culture, Social Media, Knives, and Asmr