The Facebookization of Reddit Has Begun

A critical security hole is affecting millions of Wordpress sites... TikTok beefs up its influencer marketing tools.... Reddit's new algorithm is suspiciously Facebook-like... and more.

LIVE TODAY! Ask Your Questions of a Real Facebook Support Rep

Our Subscriber Zoom call is today (Friday) at 3pm Pacific time (6pm Eastern, 11pm London).

And you are not going to want to miss this one.

Our guest will be a real (and anonymous) Facebook ad support person — one of the people behind the screen when you do that support chat. (I have independently confirmed his employment.) He'll be answering all the questions you have about policy, ad rejections, etc. (I should note: This is not a Facebook-sanctioned appearance. So he won't be stuck to Facebook's message track.)

The Zoom link is https://b.link/listenerzoom

Premium Newsletter subscribers will get a link to the replay if you miss it.


WORDPRESS:
Two Updates

We start with two updates from the popular CMS Wordpress, which powers many brand web sites.

"Critical" Security Hole in WooCommerce; Patch Immediately

https://woocommerce.com/posts/critical-vulnerability-detected-july-2021/

First, a critical security hole in one of Wordpress's most popular plugins — WooCommerce.

WooCommerce says:

“If a store [is] affected, the exposed information... could include order, customer, and administrative information.”

This isn't one of those theoretical exploits that was created in the lab; developers have seen some attempts to use this on real installs.

This is a vulnerability so severe that WooCommerce is pushing the update out automatically to as many web sites as possible. 

However, reports from the field say some people are not getting that automatic update.

So if you are the admin on your Wordpress site, stop listening to me and go update WooCommerce right now. I'll still be here when you're back.

The latest version of WooCommerce — the one you should be updating to — is version 5.5.1.

Wordpress Owner Buys PocketCasts Podcast App

And second — Wordpress's parent company, Automattic, has purchased the popular podcast app Pocket Casts.

The company says their plans are to continue to run the app as is for now — and, of course, build in deeper integrations with Wordpress.

Pocket Casts has an interesting history. It launched 11 years ago and sold to a group of public broadcasting groups in the U.S., including NPR. But this past January, the board voted to put it up for sale, after losing $800k on it in a year. This despite a monthly Premium membership plan.

It was only February when the Spotify-owned podcast platform Anchor announced a partnership with WordPress, to help turn blog posts into audio content by way of a text-to-speech thingy.


INFLUENCER MARKETING:
TikTok Expands 'Branded Content' Toggle

TikTok continues to build itself out as a preferred platform for influencer marketing. 

Late yesterday, they announced plans to add more transparency to branded content on its app.

There is a Branded Content toggle right now in the app, but it's a bit buried. Now, it will automatically pop up when the creator adds a disclosure, like #Ad or #Sponsored to the caption. It pops up and recommends turning the toggle on.

The Branded Content toggle is available for accounts with over 10,000 followers in certain testing regions and will be rolling out globally in time. 

TikTok said in its statement yesterday:

We expect creators to use the toggle when it becomes available to them. While the toggle is not yet available globally, creators are still expected to clearly disclose to the community when they're posting branded content.

There is a bit of a wall between TikTok's ad policies and their Branded Content policies. Some things you can't promote as branded content can be promoted in paid video ads.

Quoting Social Media Today:

It's a small, but important update, which will help TikTok boost its brand partnership efforts, which are becoming more prevalent. As TikTok continues to add more users, more marketers are paying attention, and the best way to make the most of platform promotions is through UGC and creator-lead approaches.

If it's available to your account, you'll find it under the More options on the Post screen.


ALGORITHMS:
Reddit Embraces "Facebook-Like" Content Discovery Algorithm

(I can't decide if I like this or not — please help me form an opinion, because I'm leaning toward not liking this.)

Reddit says it plans to improve its Best algorithm to add a Facebook-like feed algorithm to that sorting option.

Let's back up a bit. One of Reddit's lovely peculiarities is that you can sort the content in a subreddit or group in lots of ways — chronologically... by the most controversial... rising posts and comments... the top posts by day, month, year, or forever... and a few other sorting options. One of those options is called Best. 

Until now, the Best algorithm used upvotes, downvotes, the age of posts, and how much time someone spent in a community to determine the order. 

Now, the company says it will add personal engagement signals to decide what to show.

In fact, you'll even see the very Facebook-like context hints that explain why something is in your feed, like 'Because you joined...' or 'Similar to...'.

Users will be able to provide negative feedback to tell the algorithm they don't like something.

This new option is only available in their mobile app right now.

The top comment on their blog post about this:

So we've finally reached the Facebook stage of the home page where it's content you think we'll like rather than the stuff we've actually subscribed to.... kinda leaves a bad taste in my mouth.

When asked whether people can opt-out of the collection of this kind of personal interest data, a Reddit admin kind of dodged the question, saying 'Well, you can either not use Best, or you can turn off the display of those recommendations.'

The new sorting option is now available in the latest version of Reddit on iOS and Android.


YOUTUBE:
Chapters Will Be Added to Your Videos Automatically Now

Here's something I do like — YouTube says it will now start automatically adding chapters to videos by default.

Chapters are those little section markers you can use to jump between segments in a video. They're really handy for videos with lists. For instance, every Friday Xbox puts out a video with a dozen or so new game previews. The YouTube video lets me tap on a timecode in the description to jump right to a game preview I want to see.

Until now, video creators had to provide those timecodes and descriptions — now, YouTube’s machine learning will create the chapters in your videos automatically when it thinks there are discrete content segments.

You can turn it off at the per-video level in YouTube Studio by clicking 'Edit Video' and toggling the option to ‘allow automatic chapters' — or, if you're in full "You kids get off my lawn" mode, you can also disable it for your whole channel under Settings > Upload Defaults > Advanced Settings. 

Also worth noting: You can override their automatic chaptering by adding your own timecodes and chapter titles manually into the description.

Also, this is only going to apply on new uploads. They won't retroactively go back and slap chapters into your existing videos.


Tomorrow: Special ‘Weekend Edition’ Podcast

Tomorrow, a special weekend edition of the podcast is coming your way.

In a paid partnership with SocialSnowball.io, we dive deep into the interesting tool they've developed for Shopify stores. If you've ever wanted to get a referral system going with your happy customers, they've developed a fully integrated affiliate marketing system. Every customer, right on their purchase invoice, gets their own custom affiliate link created, access to a dashboard, and lots of payout methods.

Look for that tomorrow in your podcast feed.


And finally…

The observant of you may have noticed an update to our newsletter and podcast artwork! I finally got some better photos shot, more recent, so it's a little bit more accurate take on what I actually look like.

Today in Digital Marketing is produced on beautiful Vancouver Island by engageQ digital. Production support and fact checking by Sarah Guild. Our theme is by Mark Blevis. Music licensing by Source Audio. I’m Tod Maffin. Have a restful weekend, friends. I’ll talk to you on Monday.