Social media update: Nielsen Content Ratings, Facebook Lifestage, Twitter troll filters


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As an award-winning UK social media agency, you probably won’t be too surprised to learn that we excel at keeping abreast with the latest goings on from the world of status updates, likes, fans and followers. OK, so every agency in the country will claim the exact same thing, that’s true. But less would be willing to share that knowledge with clients, peers, partners and anyone who happens to click through to their blog pages.
That’s one of the reasons we’re different. Putting money where that mouth is, then, here’s everything you need to know about three of the biggest stories breaking in social media land right now. Don’t worry about it, you can thank us later.
 
Nielsen Social Content Ratings
This one really is beneficial to brands, boosting the level of insights that can guide campaigns and social media pushes.
The relationship between social and TV is now very well understood. Shows even have visual cues encouraging viewers to chime in with opinions, feedback and suggestions based on what is being shown. Adverts link in with a similar idea. In contrast, it hasn’t always been that easy for companies to ascertain which programmes have the highest levels of social engagement and reach. Which is where Nielsen comes in.
How it works
The media analytics giant is building on the groundwork set by its Twitter TV Ratings. Expanding the offering, a new Social Content Ratings system assesses TV networks and over-the-top streaming services, along with all social networks, to deduce which broadcasters, and broadcasts, are leading the way when it comes to social performance.
It’s the world’s first standardised measurement for Social TV, aimed at networks, advertisers, agencies and brands, giving them with the information they need to make the right decisions when it comes to investing in cross-platform social strategies. Basically, if you want to effectively plug into digital conversations about television, you want this.
Will it work?
There’s no real argument here. Brands and their representatives need data like never before. So, being given a definitive list of which stations and content have the most effective social media impact is the equivalent to winning gold. You’ll be able to see which TV moments you should piggyback on- or affiliate with- for campaigns. More priceless than any Mastercard purchase.
 
Facebook Lifestage
Cast your mind way, way back to 2004. It was a year when the Mars rovers, Spirit and Opportunity, landed on the red planet; IBM gave up the ghost on its PC business; and a young upstart named Mark Zuckerberg launched Facebook.
Back then the network was all about who you are (or were). The same is still true to some extent, but in 2016 the platform is so much more besides- news dissemination service, promotional tool, games hub, to name but three reasons people stay logged in. The latest update, though, is very much about getting back to basics and letting your personality shine through. Providing you meet the criteria.
How it works
Lifestage was made by a teenager, 19-year-old Facebook employee Michael Sayman, for teenagers. Comparable to Snapchat, the app lets you snap or film yourself getting up to all sorts of things, with the results then framed with themes. Make a few and you start to form a timeline. The themes are pretty basic moments;  ‘When I have no money’, ‘My happy face’, but the options will likely increase. The more of these you complete, the more you reveal to others about yourself, your hobbies, views and interests.
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Currently, in order to get an account you need to be under 21- ideally under 18- and attending a high school. User accounts are linked to high schools on an expansive list of institutions, once you match with your place of learning you can then see all the other users that attend the same school. It encourages teenagers to get to know those in their wider, extended community.
Criticisms 
Security is a major cause for concern. Presently, there’s nothing to stop anyone of any age signing up, and simply lying about what year they reached on their last birthday. Hence the negative stories that hit the press last week, suggesting this is yet another reason for parents to be concerned about what kids are doing online.
Will it work? 
Although Facebook is the world’s most prominent social network, it can’t claim a perfect record when it comes to new additions (see: Facebook Notes). In the case of Lifestage, the number of prompts to link with other networks- say Snapchat and Instagram- confirm this isn’t really a self-contained platform.
 
Troll filters on Twitter
Trying to think of the best (or should that be worst?) examples of abuse on Twitter isn’t easy. That’s because there are so many instances wherein people- often, but not exclusively, public figures- have been subjected to racism, sexism or general nastiness on the platform.
It’s not been good for the reputation of the network, with celebrities closing accounts simply to get away from their ‘trolls’, and innumerable news stories in the press about failures at Twitter HQ in stamping out anti-social social activity. All that may be about to change with the introduction of so-called ‘Troll Filters’, which can quite literally silence the haters altogether.
How it works
There are now two ways you can take up the kind offer of filtering out fascists, xenophobes and misogynists. Let’s look at them separately.
If you want to blanket block any potentially nasty accounts out there then it’s possible to adjust Notification Settings to make sure only updates from people you already follow appear in your feed.
Alternatively, a new Quality Filter might be a better choice. By using a variety of so-called ‘signals’, based on criteria like account origin and behaviour, Twitter will automatically filter out low quality content. This includes duplicate and automatically generated tweets, along with abusive content. Logically, any accounts you follow directly, or have recently interacted with, will not be affected.
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Criticisms
The biggest problem with blocking accounts you don’t follow is the sheer volume of information, leads, and ideas you will miss out on. It also means you’ll be limited in terms of expanding your own reach and community, which kind of defeats the object of using Twitter for business.
As for the Quality Filter, this has already been tried and tested for several months, it’s just being rolled out properly now, and has proven to be effective in the battle against rubbish in your news feed. Having said that, the function works on algorithmic decisions, rather than human judgement, and so it’s not necessarily perfect in making the call as to what constitutes low quality. This increases the risk of relevant content being removed from your feed.
Will it work? 
Yes, in the most literal definition of ‘doing what it says on the tin’. Whether it will improve experience is another question. When using Twitter, especially as a professional, being open to the wider community rather than just your own connections is important to fully exploit the platform.
Similarly, depending on your business, there may be relevant tweets containing anything from phrases to images that Twitter has flagged as potentially low quality, and blocked. So again, you could miss out. Furthermore, due to the way both options impact on how the network functions, they could easily become too disruptive, and eventually be ignored as options.