Aretha Franklin has died at the age of 76. According to the Associated Press, The Queen of Soul passed away in Detroit surrounded by her friends and family on Thursday (Aug. 16). Her family released a statement, calling Franklin’s death “one of the darkest moments of our lives…we have lost the matriarch and rock of our family. The love she had for her children, grandchildren, nieces, nephews, and cousins knew no bounds.”
Franklin’s family also thanked her fans for the tremendous outpouring of love and support over the past few days. “Thank you for your compassion and prayers. We have felt your love for Aretha and it brings us comfort to know that her legacy will live on.” They asked for privacy during this difficult time, as well.
There were multiple reports on Monday (Aug. 13) that the singer was gravely ill. “I am so saddened to report that the Queen of Soul and my good friend, Aretha Franklin is gravely ill,” Detroit news anchor Evrod Cassimy revealed via Twitter. “I spoke with her family members this morning. She is asking for your prayers at this time.”
Franklin had been in poor health for some time. According to Rolling Stone, The Queen of Soul cancelled her scheduled 2018 tour dates after her doctor recommended she “stay off the road and rest completely for at least the next two months.” Rumors circulated in 2010 that Franklin was battling pancreatic cancer, however, the singer denied those reports. TMZ reported on Monday (Aug. 13) that Franklin was, in fact, battling cancer before her death.
The iconic singer’s last performance took place in November 2017 at Elton John’s annual AIDS Foundation Gala. She performed a nine-song set, which included one of her greatest hits “Say a Little Prayer.”
Franklin had 20 number one singles, including “Respect,” “Bridge Over Troubled Water,” and “Chain of Fools.” She was the first woman to be inducted in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1987. Franklin was awarded both a Grammy Legend Award in 1991 and the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award in 1994. She has 44 Grammy nominations overall and 18 wins.
During her lifetime, Franklin performed at the inauguration of 3 presidents: Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton, and Barack Obama. She’s received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, was inducted into the NAACP Hall of Game, as well as inducted into the Apollo Theater Legends Hall of Fame.
In addition to those awards, Franklin was also a Kennedy Center Honoree, recipient of the National Medal of Arts, and received the Presidential Medal of Freedom. She holds an honorary degree from Harvard University, as well as honorary doctorates from Princeton University, Yale University, Brown University, Berklee College of Music, New England Conservatory of Music, and University of Michigan.
Rest in Peace, Aretha Franklin. You will be missed.
Remember the Queen of Soul and her legacy by listening to iHeartRadio’s tribute on the Classic Soul station:
Though daily social media use is ingrained in many peoples’ lives, it seems that major social media companies may have reached a saturation point when it comes to adding new users—at least in a few markets.
Snap, the parent company of Snapchat, released its second quarter results on August 7, in which it reported the app lost three million active daily users since the end of the first quarter of 2018. According to an article in the New York Times, this was “the first time since the company went public in early 2017 that it had reported a decline in users.”
This could also mark the beginning of a steady trend for Snap, as the company’s chief financial officer Tim Stone noted that Snapchat has “historically experienced a dip in daily active users during the third quarter.”
The Times speculated that this decline could be related to the backlash Snap faced from consumers following a redesign of the app’s interface at the end of 2017. Even though some of those changes were reversed in May, Snap’s chief executive Evan Spiegel told the Times that he still believes the redesign is to blame for the drop in users.
It’s worth noting, however, that Facebook and Twitter are also facing declining numbers of daily active users in certain markets, suggesting that Snap’s remodeling may not be the sole issue at hand here.
Despite an increase in users worldwide, Facebook’s Q2 results showed a stagnant user base in the US since Q1, and a decrease in European users in the same period. And Twitter reported at the end of July that its active user base had fallen by one million since earlier in 2018 (not including bots and suspicious accounts that Twitter’s recent campaign has shut down, according to executives). Stock prices of both companies fell after the reports were released.
Twitter and Facebook have dealt with myriad scandals over the past two years, including both platforms’ mishandling of information surrounding foreign interference during and after the 2016 presidential election, and misuse of user data by Facebook. And this week both social giants have come under fire for how they are dealing with InfoWars’ Alex Jones, who is known for spreading misinformation and conspiracy theories online.
Facebook removed pages belonging to Jones after his continued assertions that the mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School was a hoax, but only after pressure from the public and the example of other companies like Apple and Spotify. But Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey insiststhat Jones’ rhetoric doesn’t violate the platform’s guidelines and that removing his account would infringe upon his right to free speech.
These issues could certainly be causing some users to stop using the social sites. It could also be due to more and more reports of the harmful effects of social media, which may prompt users to step away from Facebook, Twitter and Snapchat more often.
While declining user rates may seem troubling, it’s unlikely the social giants will suffer for too long. Snapchat, for example, “disclosed the drop in users as it also posted a 49 percent jump in revenue to $262 million and a narrower net loss of $353 million for its second quarter from a year earlier.”
What’s the right publishing frequency? That depends on your brand, industry and the size of your social media following. Regardless, the best way to identify the ideal publishing frequency is by conducting experiments.
Use a social media scheduling tool such as DrumUp to schedule different frequencies over a 2–3 week period and see what works best for your brand.
2. Being overly promotional
Too much promotional content can be a huge turnoff on social media and elsewhere. If you don’t want to drive your followers away, you should ideally balance promotional content with neutral and nonpromotional posts. Although you should give your products and services some visibility, they shouldn’t be the only thing you talk about.
If you can’t invest in creating nonpromotional content, curate existing content—news, tips and ideas—using a content curator such as Feedly. It’ll save you time and serve your purpose of sharing rich and diverse content.
3. Isolating social media marketing
Social media is only one marketing channel. Many social media marketers make the mistake of isolating their social media campaigns from other marketing efforts. By doing this, though, you not only curb your reach but also diminish the impact of your content on your target audience.
By running campaigns on multiple marketing platforms, you can repeatedly make an impact on the same audience and stay top of mind.
One of the simplest ways to run your campaigns across multiple marketing platforms is to maintain a content calendar that has an overview of your activity. Google Calendar works very well for this purpose because it functions across devices.
4. Measuring results by vanity metrics
Measuring your social media marketing results is crucial, because it can give you an estimate of performance and ROI. Without these numbers, it can be impossible for you to decide if you should stick to a certain strategy or revise it.
However, when measuring metrics, it’s important to ensure that the numbers are actually representative of your social media strategies—and vanity metrics are usually misleading.
You can use social media analytics tools like Quintly to measure engagement metrics, but for conversions, you should use a combination of custom URLs and Google Analytics in addition to those tools.
5. Neglecting negative feedback
When running a business in today’s world, it’s tough to control the conversation about you on social media. You’re bound to have feedback, and some of it is inevitably going to be negative.
How you respond to that negative feedback matters. Some brands choose to ignore or delete their negative feedback. That’s a terrible idea, because negative feedback is actually a boon in disguise.
You could use a social media monitoring tool such as Brand24 to detect negative comments and respond to them in the most advantageous way possible. Some brands get a ton of visibility on social media because of the way they respond to negative feedback.
Every brand wants to invest in social media because it’s supposed to be effective, but few brands experience its benefits in reality. However, with the right tools and social media strategies, you can grow your business, provided you’re not committing the mistakes described here.
Get ready for an above-average hurricane season in 2018
Posted: May 24, 2018 8:36 AM MSTUpdated: May 24, 2018 8:38 AM MST
By Taylor Ward CNN
(CNN) — The 2018 hurricane season is shaping up to be “near- or above-normal” — though not to the degree seen last year, when 17 named storms formed and three major hurricanes struck US soil — the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said Thursday.
Ten to 16 named storms — including five to nine hurricanes, and one to four major hurricanes with Category 3 strength or higher — are predicted this Atlantic hurricane season, which begins June 1, the federal agency predicted.
Last year’s season ended with 10 hurricanes and six major hurricanes. The Atlantic basin annually averages 12 named storms, with six hurricanes and three major hurricanes.
NOAA added that there is a 75% chance that the 2018 season will see near or more than the average number of storms in the basin.
“The devastating hurricane season of 2017 demonstrated the necessity for prompt and accurate hurricane forecasts,” US Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross said.
As usual, the latest forecast cannot offer the bit of information most critical to residents living in hurricane-prone areas, from the Gulf Coast of Texas to the Carolinas and, sometimes, as far north as Boston: precisely where this year’s storms might strike.
Harvey, Irma and Maria last year took aim, respectively, at the Houston area, Florida and Puerto Rico. They put a dramatic end to a 12-year period with no major hurricane landfalls in the United States and ranked among the top five costliest hurricanes in history.
El Niño pattern could make for fewer storms
The 2017 season was very active, in part, because of a weak La Niña that developed during the six-month hurricane season that ends December 1.
La Niña is a naturally occurring phenomenon characterized by cooler than normal water in the eastern Pacific equatorial region. While La Niña occurs in the Pacific Ocean, it has a widespread impact on the global climate. That includes decreased wind shear across the tropical Atlantic, which creates favorable conditions for tropical development.
Now, an El Niño pattern could develop by late fall or winter. El Niño features warmer water in the eastern Pacific equatorial region, creating greater wind shear in the Atlantic, and thus, fewer tropical storms.
If El Niño develops earlier than expected, the Atlantic hurricane season may be less active than anticipated.
2018 season may get an early start
For now — a week ahead of the 2018 season’s official start — the hurricane center is already monitoring the eastern Gulf of Mexico.
As Memorial Day approaches, forecasters predict an 80% chance of tropical or subtropical development by the end of the long weekend.
Regardless of whether the system gets named as it moves north through the central and eastern gulf, places in Florida and into the Southeast will see scattered to numerous showers and thunderstorms daily.
Other 2018 season forecasts
Beyond the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, dubbed NOAA, most meteorologists agree that the 2018 season will be near or above average.
Colorado State University, among the most well-regarded forecasting institutions, has predicted 14 named storms, with seven hurricanes and three major hurricanes. It will update its forecast, issued last month, on May 31.
The Weather Company predicts slightly less activity than Colorado State. It forecasts a season that’s near average, with 12 named storms, including five hurricanes and two major hurricanes.
Meantime, North Carolina State University researchers expect 14 to 18 named storms, with seven to 11 hurricanes and three to five major hurricanes.
Interesting profile about Google on this week’s 60 Minutes by veteran journalist @SteveKroft
How did Google get so big?
60 Minutes reports on the power of Google, a company whose critics say has stifled competition
This past week the Federal Trade Commission was asked to investigate the data collected by Google on its Android operating system, which powers most of the world’s smartphones. It was a tiny blip in the news cycle but another sign of Washington’s and Europe’s growing concerns about the enormous, largely unchecked power accumulated by tech giants like Facebook, Amazon and Google over the last two decades. Of the three, Google, which is part of a holding company called Alphabet is the most powerful, intriguing, and omnipresent in our lives. This is how it came to be.
Most people love Google. It’s changed our world, insinuated itself in our lives, made itself indispensable. You probably don’t even have to type Google.com into your computer, it’s often the default setting, a competitive advantage Google paid billions of dollars for. No worry. Google is worth more than three-quarters of a trillion dollars right now and you don’t get that big by accident.
Since going public in 2004, Google has acquired more than 200 companies, expanding its reach across the internet. It bought YouTube, the biggest video platform. It bought Android, the operating system that runs 80% of the world’s smartphones and it bought DoubleClick, which distributes much of the world’s digital advertising, all of this barely raising an eyebrow with regulators in Washington.
Steve Kroft: Were any of those acquisitions questioned by the antitrust division of the Justice Department?
Gary Reback: Some were investigated, but only superficially, the government just really isn’t enforcing our antitrust laws. And that’s what’s happened. None of these acquisitions have been challenged.
Gary Reback is one of the most prominent antitrust lawyers in the country widely credited with persuading the Justice Department to sue Microsoft back in the 90s, the last major antitrust case against big tech. Now he is battling Google.
Steve Kroft: You think Google’s a monopoly?
Gary Reback: Oh, yes, of course Google’s a monopoly. In fact they’re a monopoly in several markets. They’re a monopoly in search. They’re a monopoly in search advertising.
Those technologies are less than 25 years old, and may seem small compared to the industrial monopolies like railroads and standard oil a century ago but Reback says there’s nothing small about Google.
“People tell their search engine things they wouldn’t even tell their wives… And that gives the company that controls it a mind-boggling degree of control over our entire society.”
Gary Reback: Google makes the internet work. The internet would not be accessible to us without a search engine
Steve Kroft: And they control it.
Gary Reback: They control access to it. That’s the important part. Google is the gatekeeper for– for the World Wide Web, for the internet as we know it. It is every bit as important today as petroleum was when John D. Rockefeller was monopolizing that.
Last year, Google conducted 90% of the world’s internet searches. When billions of people asked trillions of questions it was Google that provided the answers using computer algorithms known only to Google.
Jonathan Taplin: They have this phrase they use, “competition is just a click away.” They have no competition. Bing, their competition, has 2% of the market. They have 90%.
Jonathan Taplin is a digital media expert and director emeritus of the Annenberg Innovation Lab at the University of Southern California. He says Google’s expertise may be technology, but its business is advertising. And its most valuable commodity is highly specialized information about us. It’s helped Google control roughly 60% of worldwide advertising revenue on the internet. Taplin says traditional companies can’t compete because they don’t have the data.
Jonathan Taplin: They know who you are, where you are, what you just bought, what you might wanna buy. And so if I’m an advertiser and I say, “I want 24-year-old women in Nashville, Tennessee who drive trucks and drink bourbon,” I can do that on Google.
Gary Reback: People tell their search engines things they wouldn’t even tell their wives. I mean, it’s a very powerful and yet very intimate technology. And that gives the company that controls it a mind-boggling degree of control over our entire society.
Google is so dominant in search and search advertising that analysts and venture capitalists in Silicon Valley say it’s extremely difficult for startups to get funding if their business model requires them to compete with Google for ad revenue.
Jeremy Stoppelman co-founded Yelp more than a decade ago — a website that collects local reviews on everything from auto mechanics to restaurants nationwide and makes money selling ads.
Jeremy Stoppelman: The initial promise of Google was to organize the world’s information. And ultimately that manifested itself in you expecting that the top links, the things that it shows at the top of that page are the best from around the web. The best that the world has to offer. And I could tell you that is not the case. That is not the case anymore.
Instead of doing what’s best for consumers, Stoppelman says Google is doing what’s best for Google.
Jeremy Stoppelman: If I were starting out today, I would have no shot of building Yelp. That opportunity has been closed off by Google and their approach.
Steve Kroft: In what way?
Jeremy Stoppelman: Because if you provide great content in one of these categories that is lucrative to Google, and seen as potentially threatening, they will snuff you out.
Steve Kroft: What do you mean snuff you out?
Jeremy Stoppelman: They will make you disappear. They will bury you.
Yelp and countless other sites depend on Google to bring them web traffic – eyeballs for their advertisers. But now Stoppelman says their biggest competitor in the most lucrative markets is Google. He says it’s collecting and bundling its own information on things like shopping and travel and putting it at the very top of the search results, regardless of whether it belongs there on merit. He showed us how it worked by Googling sushi San Francisco.
Jeremy Stoppelman: All the prime real estate is here. This is where the consumer, their eye focuses. And that’s by design; Google wants you to pay attention to their content.
All of the information here is owned by Google from the maps to the reviews. Stoppelman says if you click on any of these links at the top of the page you may think you’ve gone to another website but in fact you will still be on Google, seeing what it wants you to see while it collects your personal information and maybe exposes you to Google advertising.
Steve Kroft: If you click anything inside this box, you stay on Google and they make more money?
Jeremy Stoppelman: That’s right.
“Google wields enormous power across the industry. And they set the rules. The question is who’s watching Google?”
Google told us it doesn’t have anything to do with money, it’s about improving its product by making searches quicker and easier for its customers by eliminating the need to click through lots of other sites.
Stoppelman says it’s about stifling competition, pushing it down the page where it’s less likely to be seen. The advantage, he says, is even more striking if you look at the search results on a smartphone.
Jeremy Stoppelman: This is exactly what your phone would look like in the palm of your hand. This is all of Google’s own property, right here. It takes up the entire screen.
Steve Kroft: How important is that first page?
Jeremy Stoppelman: It’s not even just the first page, it’s the first few links on the page is the vast majority of where user attention goes, and where the traffic flows.
Steve Kroft: So if you’re not at the top of the page or at the bottom of the first page, or on the second page, that’s gonna affect your business?
Jeremy Stoppelman: Yeah, if you’re on the second page, forget it you’re not a real business.
Yelp, Microsoft, Amazon, eBay, Expedia, and Yahoo all complained about Google’s dominance and what they called its anti-competitive behavior to the Federal Trade Commission, which in 2011 conducted an investigation.
According to a confidential memo – parts of which were inadvertently given to the Wall Street Journal years later – the FTC’s Bureau of Competition had recommended that an antitrust lawsuit be filed against Google for some of its business practices. It said “Google is in the unique position of being able to ‘make or break any web-based business'” and “has strengthened its monopolies over search and search advertising through anti-competitive means” and “forestalled competitors and would-be competitors’ ability to challenge those monopolies.” It specifically cited Google for stealing competitors’ content, and imposing restrictions on advertisers and other websites that limited their ability to utilize other search engines. But the recommendations were rejected.
Gary Reback: It flatly says that Google’s conduct was anti-competitive. It flatly says that Google’s conduct hurt consumers. I mean, what else would you need to know to vote out a complaint? There it is, written by your own staff. And yet, nothing happened.
Steve Kroft: They closed the case?
Gary Reback: They closed the case, correct.
The FTC’s commissioners decided that Google’s conduct could be addressed with voluntary improvements to some of its business practices – and that Google’s decision to move its own products to the top of the search page could plausibly be of benefit to consumers. But Reback and others who were directly involved in the investigation have long suspected that the outcome had something to do with Google’s political muscle in Washington and its close relationship with the Obama administration. Google spent more money on lobbying last year than any other corporation, employing 25 different firms and helping fund 300 trade associations, think tanks and other groups many of which influence policy.
Gary Reback: They have a seat at the table in every discussion that implicates this issue at all. They know about developments that we never even hear about. So their influence – from my perspective is very, very difficult to challenge.
Right now the only one taking aggressive action against Google and the power of big tech is Margrethe Vestager, the competition commissioner for the European Union. During her four years in office, Vestager has become a thorn in the side of Silicon Valley, fining Facebook $122 million for a merger violation and ordering Ireland to recover $15 billion in taxes owed by Apple. Last summer she levied a record $2.7 billion fine against Google for depriving certain competitors of a chance to compete with them.
Margrethe Vestager: Just as well as I admire some of the innovation by Google over the last decade– well, I want their illegal behavior to stop.
Steve Kroft: And that’s what you feel has gone on.
Margrethe Vestager: Not only do we feel it, we mean that we can prove it.
In researching the case, Vestager says her staff went through 1.7 billion Google search queries and found that Google was manipulating its secret search formulas—or algorithms—to promote its own products and services and sending its competitors into oblivion.
Margrethe Vestager: It’s very difficult to find the rivals. Because on average, you’d find them only on page four in your search results.
Steve Kroft: And why so far down?
Margrethe Vestager: Well, because then you don’t find them. I don’t– I don’t know anyone who goes to page four in their search result. The– jokingly, you could say that this is where you should keep your secrets. Because no one ever comes there.
Steve Kroft: Do you think this has been deliberate on Google’s part?
Margrethe Vestager: Yes. We think that this is done on purpose.
Steve Kroft: How do they do it? I think everybody has this idea that Google has this algorithm. And they put the best searches right at the top.
Margrethe Vestager: Well, it is exactly the algorithm that does it. Both the– the promotion of Google themselves and the demotion of others.
Steve Kroft: So, they’re rigging the game.
Margrethe Vestager: Yes. And it is illegal.
Google has paid its 2.7 billion fine and is aggressively appealing the decision. But for now, Stoppelman says everyone is still playing by Google’s rules.
Steve Kroft: If you’re in business, you have to be on Google.
Jeremy Stoppelman: Yeah. Google wields enormous power across the industry. And they set the rules. The question is who’s watching Google?
Google declined our request for an interview with one of its executives for this story, but in a written response to our questions, the company denied it was a monopoly in search or search advertising, citing many competitors including Amazon and Facebook. It says it does not make changes to its algorithm to disadvantage competitors and that, “our responsibility is to deliver the best results possible to our users, not specific placements for sites within our results. We understand that those sites whose ranking falls will be unhappy and may complain publicly.”
Produced by Maria Gavrilovic. Associate producer, Alex Ortiz.