Upvoted – Reddit’s News Site – First Impressions

Every social media buff knows about Reddit. Submit links to be judged by the faceless masses via Upvotes and Downvotes, and if you pass the gauntlet of reposts and re-reposts and re-re-reposts and follow the rules of each subreddit just right, you might just be in the orange. Play the right cards at exactly the right time, and you might even end up on the front page of Reddit. For about four hours before the limited attention span of the Internet buries your post in the second page. All of this, of course, is reinforced by “Karma,” a sort of point system for your account; every link with a positive number of Upvotes adds to your Karma score, a meaningless number next to your username. You might get some recognition if your Karma score is in the tens of thousands, but unless you’re a celebrity or a novelty account like user poem_for_your_sprog, you probably won’t be known for anything noteworthy. Verbose intro aside, let’s talk about Upvoted.com, Reddit’s recently launched news site.

It appears that the purposed of Upvoted is to find the most interesting stories and links on Reddit and expand on them with an editorial process, something that many existing news site already does on a daily basis. It could be that Reddit wants to curate this type of content with the added benefit of getting straight from the horse’s mouth. Given the site’s disastrous history of neglecting users, subreddit owners, and its own staff, using its own editorial staff to dig up and expand on trending topics and freshly popular users might be more than they can handle. Everyone’s comparing it to Buzzfeed, and at first glance, that’s about right. At second glance, it looks about the same. At the moment, the people most likely to see beyond Upvoted’s Buzzfeedesque exterior are current users who are versed in Reddit’s posting culture and business motivations.

Looking at the front page of the site also reveals a great deal about Reddit’s motivations. Front and center is the top story with the number of upvotes associated with the original link at the top left corner, and under it, the top 3 trending stories. Directly to the right and taking up about 25% of your screen…a sponsored link. Advertising. Funding Reddit’s servers isn’t cheap, and Upvoted looks like another way for the social site to rake in more advertising revenue from companies looking to monetize on Reddit’s popularity. The promise is that this sponsored content will be just as rich as normal posts, written and curated by the editorial staff, but paid for and approved by the company. In other words, “Branded Content”. Upvoted does make it very clear that it’s sponsored, so there’s no shady business going on. Good.

Let’s talk privacy. Many of Upvoted’s posts include comments from users. Does the editorial staff ask permission before a comment is used in their curated content, or does the terms and agreements of the site already opt every user in to be fair game? This is an important question because of the “throwaway account” culture on Reddit; people who don’t want their comments or questions associated with their regular usernames will often create a burner account. Make a comment, ask a question, and never touch the username again. I don’t have an answer yet, but I will update this segment when I get a clear answer.

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Paid Advertising on Social Networks: The New Reality

People new to the game of Facebook might get the impression that there’s no way to break into the social media scene due to the abysmal organic reach percentage. As a result, new businesses might be completely turned off, especially when they’re trying to get a handle on their finances and simply cannot afford to invest in paid advertising on the world’s largest social network. It hasn’t always been this way. Many companies who have been with Facebook from the creation of the Facebook Page grew their following without having to pay a single dime. This is because Facebook used to be free in every sense of the word: no advertising, no promoted posts, and certainly no paid apps! But as the network became more popular, more and more companies began using Facebook as one of the primary methods of reaching people directly, which led to all the paid marketing options. As these options rolled out, everyone began experiencing a huge decrease in organic reach, some dropping as low as 2.1%. Abysmal seems like an understatement with numbers like that!

Facebook isn’t the only one to make paid advertising and promoted posts their only options for increasing your reach. Twitter, renown for its hashtag system, also offers promoted tweets and ad options with a built-in analytics system. Pinterest rolled out their Promoted Pins, though only for select companies at the moment. Unlike Facebook, the latter two do not punish their users by reducing their organic reach. Their functions remain the same, while the paid options are an add-on. Of course, Facebook denies purposely reducing organic reach for monetary gains, stating that the new system by which the site ranks content was implemented to reduce spam. Yes, it does reduce spam, but no, it doesn’t prevent spam by any measure. The only thing it seems to do consistently well is stop non-paying Facebook Pages from reaching their customer base. One positive thing it does is punish those who try to cheat the game by buying fake Likes. The more fake Likes you have, the worse your organic reach will be. Not that it isn’t insanely bad already. It’s just a cherry on top.

So what can we do? Paid options are a part of the game now. New users and small companies will need to work extra hard to create quality content relevant to their potential followers in order to entice them to share. But not on Facebook. They frown on external links.