Mosseri stumbles on Threads

Elon Musk is misleading everyone on X traffic again, the clueless culture critic astounds everyone, and more...

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Happy Monday!

Maybe because it coincided with Easter this year, or because of the tide of misinformation that we’re constantly doing our best to wade through, April fools’ pranks didn’t hit the same this year. There were some good ones and some not so good ones, but Elon Musk managed to outdo everyone with the worst one of them all, which was actually ripped off from someone else.

P.S. Read to the end to see what happens when someone tries to mansplain a Beatles legend, and all the best reporting and resources from last week!

For anyone with us for the first time, welcome to Inbound News! Just 10-15 minutes every Monday to catch up on the previous week. I cover the stories that matter with smart analysis and resources to help make sense of all the noise. But always with a healthy dose of skepticism and self-awareness. 😉 

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🎨 Creator economy

Meta is gaslighting Instagram creators, again

Adam Mosseri, the head of Instagram (and Threads) stated follower counts matter less than view and like counts on Instagram. So creators should be focusing on the number of likes each post receives and the number of views Reels receive. @chrisjohnmillington pointed out in response that if someone has worked hard to build a following, you’d expect the view count to be predictable and consistent based on the number of followers they have.

Mosseri responded that you can’t expect all of your followers to see your posts because they either haven’t opened the app on the day you’re posting, or they haven’t scrolled down enough to see your post. To really drive home the point, he also preemptively told people not to blame ‘the algorithm’, as their ranking and recommendation engine drives greater reach for posts. These responses went down about as well as you’d expect with creators. @piques shared a screenshot showing a post reaching 23,471 accounts. He has over two million followers.

@voust had a quick look at his default feed and saw only four posts from people he follows, with the rest made up of suggested posts (six) and ads (three). So perhaps there was some truth in what Mosseri was saying, but he didn’t mention people don’t scroll down enough to see your content because the default feed is weighted towards suggested posts and ads. Author @dianaurban also provided an example where one of her posts went viral, but only 26 followers initially and just 204 followers six days later viewed her post. She has over nine thousand followers. So, sure, the algorithm can provide greater reach as Mosseri stated, but don’t expect that reach to be with your own followers.

This conversation isn’t a surprise in some respects, as creators have seen their organic reach decline on Instagram for some time. But Threads’ text interface and nested conversations have allowed creators to have more analytical discussions about their reach (or lack thereof) on Instagram. It’s harder to do this on Instagram itself. The weird thing is if we go back to where this started (in his thread), Mosseri was telling everyone point blank that follower counts don’t matter so much anymore. His responses to some creator comments saw him backtrack and attempt to gaslight them about why so few of their followers see their content.

It would be great if Meta just came clean and admitted that they are essentially entertainment platforms with algorithms serving up whatever is trending at the time you post. That’s obviously not going to happen. Why admit creators can’t rely on Instagram to present content to their audience, which in many cases they’ve spent years cultivating? It’s surely cold comfort to creators that they aren’t the only ones experiencing this issue. The best they can appear to hope for is to get reach with all users on Instagram. Which is a terribly inefficient way to find your true fans and not just people doom scrolling for their next dopamine hit.

Bb22 GIF by Big Brother

Classic Meta…. Source: Giphy

👍️ Social media

Elon Musk misleads about X growth

Elon Musk posted on X the happy news that traffic “reaches all-time high.” Like, the most traffic ever on the platform! Amazing stuff. Except people pretty much immediately wondered how they could go from under a billion visitors per day about a year ago to over three billion visitors just a year later.

People understandably guessed it could have been a result of all the bots that made Musk want to pull out of his purchase of Twitter in the first place and seems to have only gotten worse under his ownership. Others speculated it may have something to do with the ‘nudes in bio’ phenomenon of NSFW content now flooding the platform.

It doesn’t help Musk that there have been quite a few third-party reports detailing the massive drop in traffic since he came in with his kitchen sink. The latest report published just days before his post indicates the rate of people using X has declined by 30% year-over-year. Which seems to be very different to what Musk is claiming.

The first issue with the figures promoted by Musk is actually revealed on the graph in his post, which has the word ‘Desktop’ in grey text on the bottom. The traffic being referred to is just what the Twitter.com and X.com websites receive, not app usage. Not surprisingly, over 80% of people prefer to use the app.

But the real issue is the actual cause of the massive spike in users. As reported by Andrew Hutchinson, Musk is rehashing data from Semrush’s traffic tools. They updated their data to include SERP Features, the breakout panels that show in this case relevant posts on X based on your Google searches, around this time last year. This caused the massive, unnatural spike in traffic for X and all other websites being shown in SERP Features.

You’d think someone as intelligent as Musk would consider what could have caused such a spike in the data before sharing it. Except he doesn’t have to because all he cares about is portraying success to pump up his ego and prop up the value of his withering platform.

📖 Read Andrew’s analysis here: No, X isn’t seeing all-time high traffic

College Accuse GIF

Pretty much sums up the situation over at X… Source: Giphy

⚡️ Social media quick bites

Meta (Facebook / Instagram / Threads)

TikTok

  • An Instagram lookalike feature to create collections for saved videos is being tested, with the option to make the collections public.

  • A reminder that seller fees on TikTok Shop have been raised to 6% from April 1 and will rise again to 8% from July 1.

  • It’s been confirmed they have no plans to dial back the amount of TikTok shop content, and will onboard book publishers.

  • Sony Music says TikTok gives an “astonishingly small” return compared with streaming partners such as YouTube, and may pull their music.

  • The platform is expanding its dedicated STEM feed across Europe, starting in the U.K. and Ireland, after first launching in the US.

Twitter (X)

  • A demo of the upcoming new Explore page has been released, showing overviews generated in real-time by its AI model Grok, and a new ‘Live on X’ section for in-progress Spaces and live-streams.

  • A new head of safety at X has been named, the third one in two years, and nearly a year after the last executive in the position resigned.

  • A warning was issued by the X team about a “significant, proactive initiative” to remove bot and spam accounts from the platform.

YouTube

Others

💫 AI quick bites

✍️ The best reporting last week

The influencers with close access to the US president

They have more access than the press: Makena Kelly from Wired outlines how the courting of digital influencers has impacted political coverage.

Will AI take the ‘social’ out of ‘social media’?

The influx of AI on social media is raising questions: Andrew Hutchinson from Social Media Today asks what happens when everything becomes a copy.

Influencers allege discrimination on a sponsored trip

But not from the brand itself: Chantal Fernandez from The Cut explains what went wrong on a ski trip to the Swiss Alps, and how the brand responded.

🧠 Resources to level up

The most effective content on social media

New data and trends: Cyan Zhong on the HubSpot blog details the different types of social media content and what works best for 2024.

Words every content marketer should know

57 key words and phrases: Jodi Harris from the Content Marketing Institute has created an up-to-date glossary you should review and bookmark now.

Grab yourself some more followers on Facebook

13 tried-and-tested tactics: Kirsti Lang from Buffer outlines the different ways you can build your follower count on the world’s most-used social network.

How to become an independent SEO consultant

And be successful: Olga Zarr shares her experience and lessons from becoming a successful SEO consultant on the Search Engine Journal blog.

😲 Really?

When music royalty and a clueless culture critic meet

At least Threads was exciting for once: Sir Paul McCartney wrote the song Blackbird, which was included on the Beatles’ eponymous album in 1968. Along with some romantic interpretations of the song, he’s been pretty consistent over the years that he wrote it to symbolise the Civil Rights movement in America, particularly the Little Rock Nine students blocked from going to high school in Arkansas. Beyonce has just released a cover of Blackbird near the start of her new album, Cowboy Carter. McCartney was very happy with it and said she did a “magnificent version.” We know this because he told everyone on Threads. Enter possibly the first trending topic that started on Threads itself, and its first real character, the clueless culture critic. He found Beyonce’s version “ordinary” because “the song has always been it applies to everyone, non-racial.” Cue over 1,000 responses with the majority duly roasting him. While everyone can have different interpretations of art, most people accept the artist’s own interpretation is a valid one. Just to be clear, McCartney had also reiterated that he hopes his and Beyonce’s versions can ease racial tension.

Thanks for reading! 😄 

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