Digital Dash: Facebook tests ‘downvote’ & more

1. Facebook tests a ‘downvote’ button that’s NOT a dislike
2. Google brings emails to life with AMP upgrade
3. Facebook’s new calculation will decrease organic reach
4. Pinterest makes small but significant change: adds @replies to comments
5. Snapchat lures Instagram’s advertisers with free credits

1. Facebook tests a ‘downvote’ button that’s NOT a dislike
It’s hard to think of a time when rumours of a Facebook dislike button didn’t exist.

But despite all the talk, nothing has ever materialised. The ‘Sad’ and ‘Angry’ reactions are the closest we’ve come (although a ‘thumbs down’ button is available on Messenger).

Debate rages over whether a dislike button would even be a good thing. Is there really a need for the negativity? Would it open a can of worms?

Facebook still isn’t convinced, and has confirmed that a dislike button isn’t on the agenda. But as part of that same statement, the company did admit that it is currently testing a ‘downvote’ feature for post comments – something already spotted in the wild.

Facebook_downvote 1

Interestingly, the new button isn’t designed for users to communicate feedback to other users, but instead to give feedback to Facebook itself – a way to signal that a comment is inappropriate, uncivil or misleading.

When downvote is clicked, the comment will be hidden and more options will appear.

Facebook_downvote 2

Photo cred: TechCrunch

What happens after this point is still a bit of a mystery beyond it being flagged up as an issue. Facebook has said downvotes won’t affect a post’s ranking and that there won’t be a downvote counter.

Presumably in the future, the feature could help the company manage discussions to help engineer the kind of ‘meaningful interactions’ it now prioritises – although that would raise some interesting questions over censorship and judgement calls around what’s appropriate or not.


2. Google brings emails to life with AMP upgrade
Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) have been described as Google’s answer to Facebook’s Instant Articles.

The AMP project, backed by Google, is an open-source initiative that helps publishers create websites that load radically faster than normal mobile-optimised sites. AMP is also now an important ranking factor for Google’s SERPs.

And the AMP horizons are broadening.

It has just been announced that AMP functionality will be coming to emails (specifically, Gmail) in the form of AMP for Email, which will allow developers to make emails more ‘interactive and engaging’.

We’re all used to receiving information through emails, then either replying back to make an arrangement, or clicking through to take an action on a website. But with AMP for Email, there will be no need for these additional steps. You will be able to interact in real time with email content to do things like:

• Edit a calendar to set up a meeting
• Browse through a Pinterest board to save a pin
• Fill out a form to take part in a survey

All these things will take place within the email itself, through widgets with actionable functions that developers can embed.


As of right now, AMP for Email is only available as a preview on request for developers. But support for Gmail will follow later this year.

My first reaction to this was that it could be really interesting. Most of us encounter emails constantly throughout the working week so I’m intrigued by any upgrade that could make life easier.

But there’s another way of looking at things – a stance taken in this TechCrunch article. The argument is that complicating something that’s been beautifully and reliably simple for forever, and serves its purpose perfectly, isn’t needed.

Maybe email should stay in its lane? We’ll see.

While we’re talking about AMP, you might be interested in another AMP developer preview announced this week: AMP Stories. The format mirrors every other social media Stories feature (credit: Snapchat) – a fleeting but immersive full-screen content display that’s tappable and swipeable.

With stories becoming an increasingly popular way of sharing content, it’s not surprising that Google wants in.

AMP Stories will share the strength of other AMP projects by benefitting from impressively fast loading speeds (they may even be pre-cached before you click on them), and will appear in Google Search.



3. More bad news for organic reach, Facebook’s new calculation will decrease figures further
The organic reach saga continues. After years in decline, and a potential huge hit from January’s major algorithm update, here’s some more bad news for anyone with any faith whatsoever left in Facebook’s organic reach.

The company has announced that it will be changing the way organic reach is calculated to match the way paid reach is calculated: a person will only be considered ‘reached’ when a post has entered a their screen.

Previously, a post only had to be delivered in News Feed to technically count as having reached someone organically. So if the user didn’t scroll enough to view the post, you would essentially be none the wiser.

Now, although another drop in organic reach is hardly welcome news – it’s important to realise that this doesn’t mean you’ll reach less people. It’s just a change to how reach is defined.

All in all, it’s much more helpful to know the number of unique users who’ve seen a post than the number that could have potentially seen it.

Facebook noted in a blog post on the subject that ‘pages may see lower reach figures than before.’

So expect a dip in results when comparing scores achieved using the new calculation to those achieved while using the old one.

To help us all navigate the change in terms of reporting, both the old and the new organic reach counts will be shown in the Page Insights overview and API for a few months.

Those of you with really good memories might recall that this exact same thing happened with organic impressions a couple of years ago. Who knows why both metrics didn’t get updated at the same time.


4. Pinterest makes small but significant change: adds @replies to comments
Pinterest is known for many things. Ideas, inspiration, visual search, mouth-watering cookie recipes… these all fall into a list of the platform’s strengths.

But one thing that really hasn’t taken off on Pinterest is its comments section.

Commenting is a big deal on all of the other major social media networks, so why not Pinterest? Granted, it’s primarily a visual platform. But so is Instagram.

The answer might lie in a key feature that – until this week – was missing: the ability to tag users in comments.

Luckily those days are over. You can now reply to anyone by typing @username in the comments field beneath a pin to suggest a pin to them or involve them in a conversation. The tagged user will also receive an email notification.


Photo cred: Pinterest

Sharing ideas and content is such an important part of the Pinterest experience, it’s kind of surprising that this functionality has only just been added. Until now, if you wanted to show your friend a pin, you needed to go to the effort of sending it to them – which involved at least two extra taps.

Another interesting new Pinterest feature was also announced this week.

The company added even more appeal to its trailblazing visual search tool by enabling you to combine it with a text search (on iOS only).

This means you can now include a photo with a regular text-based query for even better-refined results.



5. Snapchat plays dirty, tries to lure Instagram’s advertisers with free credits
Snapchat is king of the moral high ground.

It kept its cool while other social media platforms helped themselves to its defining features, and while its users were tempted over to those very competitors.

Through all of that, Snapchat stayed focused, kept innovating and refused to sit down and die. And the hard work paid off. Recent Q4 results exceeded expectations and showed really positive progress.

But the fact is, Snapchat still needs to attract significantly more users and advertisers if it’s going to be able to compete with the likes of Instagram. Its ad auctions have suffered due to a lack of competition, which has driven the price of ads down – something that needs to be fixed.

So Snapchat’s getting sneaky – and maybe slightly snakey – with the launch of an online application that offers free advertising credits for vertical video ads in return for proof of ad purchases from a competitor (e.g. Instagram).

While this does seem a slightly underhand, it’s really just a case of Instagram getting a taste of its own medicine.

Gotta do what you gotta do.