“Serial” Saved Podcasting

serialMillions of fans of the podcast series Serial (including my wife) are checking their podcasting apps daily, hoping that they’ll receive a Thanksgiving present.  For fans of podcasting, whether they like Serial or not, that’s a wonderful thing.

The NPR-produced series, which debuted in October 2014, was a spinoff of the radio program “This American Life.”   It investigated the 1999 murder of Hae Min Lee, an 18-year-old student at Baltimore’s Woodlawn High School. Her ex-boyfriend, Adnan Syed, was charged with her murder and given life in prison.

Serial became a worldwide phenomenon.  It spawned multiple “shows about the show” as well as online recaps and even YouTube parodies.  It also became the fastest series to reach five million downloads.  The first episode of the second season, which will serialize the case of Bowe Bergdahl, a U.S. soldier who mysteriously vanished from his post in Afghanistan in 2009, is scheduled to be released any day now.

Why is this remarkable and why am I writing about it?  Because Serial saved podcasting.

Back in 2007 when I created the EndGame PR Podcast Production Service, podcasting was still in its infancy.  I launched my own show that year, Startup BizCast, and published 86 episodes of small business advice before the program ended its run in 2009.  Around that same period, I produced several other series for clients that included the Virginia Community College System, the Richmond Association of REALTORS, and FightSMA.  To my knowledge, my firm’s production service is still unique in the Richmond area.

I thought podcasting would explode in popularity.  By the time I started producing, the concept had already been around for a few years.  The shows were free, on demand, and could be enjoyed in the car or wherever listening to radio is an option.  I was wrong.

Basically, people just didn’t understand how to access podcasts.  In 2007 and even 2009, smartphones (the best way to access a podcast) were still a relatively new thing.  Even a handful of years later, while people had heard of podcasting, many either didn’t know how to access them or figured they were something for technology geeks.

When Serial took off last fall, that all changed.  People wanted to figure out how to use the technology, and realized it wasn’t that hard after all.  Suddenly, people are realizing how cool it is to be able to access thousands upon thousands of niche programs whenever they please.  Corporations and other organizations are starting to take notice again, seeing that podcasting is a great way to get their message out or educate people.  I have noticed this anecdotally, by the number of new client series I’ve begun over the last month, after not launching a new one for several years.

In the end, all it took was one show to break out for people to recognize the potential of the format.  Thank you Serial.

Will Tomorrow’s Teens Know Facebook?

education, school and technology concept - smiling students with smartphone texting at school

Will tomorrow’s teens know Facebook?

I had an interesting conversation with my (nearly) 13 year old daughter in the car yesterday.

Her: My kids won’t know anything about Facebook.

Me (after choking at the idea of my daughter having kids): Maybe not, but why do you say that?

Her: It’s going to be so old by then.  It will be like MySpace is now.

I mention this conversation to illustrate how fast things move.  Did you know MySpace (or Myspace, or My____ … however they’re typing it nowadays) was founded in 2003?  That’s one year after my daughter was born.  That’s an eternity in the social media world, but it’s not much older than Facebook.  Mark Zuckerberg’s baby was founded only a year after that, and was opened to the general public in 2006.  The now-massive social media site has grown and changed with the times, to where it currently has nearly 1.4 billion registered users.

But, what’s next?

While many people believe Facebook is now too big to just go away, it’s important to note that while most of today’s teenagers have Facebook accounts, they really don’t use the site as much as you might assume at first glance.  In fact, the Washington Post announced last year that teens are officially “over” Facebook, and instead are flocking to Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat.  The Post article cited a survey that said in a matter of six months, teen use of Facebook plummeted from 72-percent to 45-percent.


Because their parents are there.

When you’re a teenager, anywhere your parents can be found is monumentally uncool.

So … what’s next?  If you go on the assumption that today’s teens will be having their own children in 10-15 years, and those children will become active in social media … say … 13 years later, what on Earth will they be using?  Will social media even be a thing?

1000px-America_Online_logo.svgI’m not sure I can accurately predict what teens will be doing 20+ years down the road.  I’m not sure I can comprehend what they do now.  But, it might be informative to know what WE were using on our computers 20+ years ago.  In the years around 1990 to 1995, the online services AOL, Prodigy and Compuserve were king, and you could easily say social media (in the form of their chat rooms) was being born.  Clearly, things have changed a lot since then.

I do suspect the following will still be going on in 20 years:

  • Privacy will still be an issue.  You simply cannot completely stop all teenagers from posting stupid things online.
  • Cyberbullying will still be an issue.  See above.

To go back to the original question, however, will Facebook still be around?  My guess is that it probably will be in some form or another.  It simply IS too big to just go away.  Maybe it will be more like Periscope and Meercat, and will be used to stream events live rather than post pictures about them after the fact.  Maybe it will be a conglomerated news site where businesses and individuals post current events and comment on it, without leaving details about their personal lives like they do now.  There are too many possibilities to imagine them all.

Whatever is “next”, one thing I truly believe is that the downfall of Facebook won’t happen quickly or completely in 20 years.  Some people still do use MySpace, for example, and it hasn’t been relevant for years.  Blogger, author and social media commentator Shel Israel made a good prediction when he said, “At some point, there will be a social network better enough so that people will leave Facebook not in droves, but a little bit at a time…it’ll slowly get smaller, ad revenues will slowly go down, and the new one will figure out how to make money on mobile, which Facebook hasn’t yet done. It will happen sooner than most people think.”

Facebook Ad Dollars More Important Than Ever

ccink_facebookEver since becoming a publicly traded company (and thus being more focused on the bottom line) Facebook has been pushing brands more and more toward what is now becoming inevitable — you have to spend at least a little advertising money to get your message to your audience on the social media giant.

Facebook announced today more changes to the formula it uses to create its news feed.  The news feed is the first thing you see when you log into the site, and includes a mix of updates from your friends, paid advertising, and content from pages and groups that you’ve “liked.”  Facebook announced today that going forward, it will include less of that last item and more of the first item.

What does this mean for your organization’s page on Facebook?  A lot.  You’ve surely noticed that when you post an item, only a small percentage of your “likers” actually see it.  Its visibility, of course, will increase if your audience is liking, commenting and sharing on that item, but it’s absolutely harder to cut through the clutter than it used to be, and now Facebook says it’s going to be harder.

In the end, the solution is to use targeted advertising dollars.  When you “boost” a post on Facebook, the site shows it to more people.  And, the good news is that you don’t have to spend a ton of money to get more eyeballs.  There’s no need to boost every post on your page, either.  Boosting your best content will go a long way toward making sure you keep people interested.



Expect to Lose Some “Likes” Soon

FacebookIf you manage a Facebook Page and pay at least a little attention to how many “likes” you have, expect to see your numbers going down in the coming weeks.

Facebook announced that they’ll be doing an “audit” of the social media site, and removing “likes” that come from people whose accounts have been voluntarily deactivated or have been memorialized.  Here’s the reason, according to the Facebook blog post published yesterday:

There are two primary benefits to removing voluntarily deactivated and memorialized Facebook accounts from Pages’ like counts:

Business results: Removing inactive Facebook accounts from Page audience data gives businesses up-to-date insights on the people who actively follow their Page and makes it easier for businesses to find people like their followers through tools like lookalike audiences.

Consistency: We already filter out likes and comments generated by deactivated or memorialized accounts from individual Page posts, so this update keeps data consistent.

While no one wants to lose “likes” from their page, there’s actually solid logic behind this move.  Numbers that are boosted from people who are no longer active Facebook don’t help you in the least.  They’re merely vanity numbers.

Some have asked what percentage of a drop can be expected, but Facebook has not responded to those questions.


Facebook Page Changes Will Force Move to More Quality Content

fbmoneySocial Media Managers for brands across the world are evaluating their strategies right now, as Facebook recently dropped a bomb that will change how some are doing business on the world’s largest social media site.

The move, which was posted on Facebook’s news blog, will cut some social media marketers off at the knees, and will force all of us who manage business Facebook pages to pause before posting.  In that blog post, we are told that Facebook will make sure fewer people see the following types of posts:

  • Posts that solely push people to buy a product or install an app
  • Posts that push people to enter promotions and sweepstakes with no real context
  • Posts that reuse the exact same content from ads

Here’s what Facebook had to say about these types of posts going forward:

“Beginning in January 2015, people will see less of this type of content in their News Feeds. As we’ve said before, News Feed is already a competitive place – as more people and Pages are posting content, competition to appear in News Feed has increased. All of this means that Pages that post promotional creative should expect their organic distribution to fall significantly over time.”

In the end, what does this mean?  It means that if you’re inclined to push out these types of posts and want to continue doing so, you either need to start spending money advertising or change the type of content you post.  Facebook, by all accounts, will still be happy to allow promotional posts that are “boosted” through its advertising program.

The other thing you should consider is changing the way you use Facebook.  The most successful brands on the social media site use a mix of informational posts, engagement posts, and promotions like contests.  Of those three types of content, the only one that may run into the Facebook “censor” algorithm is contests, which should be promoted through Facebook advertising already.

If content was king before this announcement, it’s the ruler of the universe now.

EndGame PR has been creating quality social media, website and blog content for clients since 2006.  We understand that a content creation strategy can be time consuming and requires a specific skill set that not every business owner possesses.  If you’re concerned that these latest Facebook changes will mean your posts are invisible, contact us to discuss a new social media strategy.


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