Tons of hot takes on this wintry Tuesday.

I installed my first SSL certificate via the new Let’s Encrypt project. It was easier than other SSL certs I’ve requested and installed. This one was all done via the command line. Let’s Encrypt is a free, automated, and open certificate authority (CA), run for the public’s benefit. With a few tweaks in Apache, I’m getting A+ scores on Qualys’ SSL Labs test.

SSL Labs Test Result

In May of 2005, I sat in a movie theater in Erie, Pennsylvania, getting ready to watch Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith. The movie was, well, the movie, and I couldn’t help but sit there and be bummed that I’d never have the chance to bring my boys to see a Star Wars movie. They’d never experience the excitement of watching a Star Wars story unspool before them on the silver screen. DVDs, Blu-Rays, and streaming aren’t the same. You have to see Star Wars in a theater. You just do. Just before Christmas, I sat in a theater with my two boys and watched The Force Awakens.

The Force AwakensIn that moment between the Lucasfilm logo and the logo appearing on the screen, that heart-stopping moment before the horns blast out, I grabbed their hands. That moment. I want to freeze it, time-lock it, live in it forever. I don’t want them to grow up. It’s happening too fast. The Lucasfilm logo appeared. The music started, and I looked at them. They were smiling, still holding my hand.

I’m not crazy about the new way Facebook is doing the sharing of content on brand pages. The new way where it shows multiple thumbnails for a shared post. I think it’s confusing and leads users to believe there are 3 different stories included in the post, not just one. Example:

Facebook sharing

Speaking of Facebook, their privacy controls have matured to the point that I don’t think people need to change their display names to some combination of a nickname or middle name as opposed to their last name. Instead of being “Laura Jane” on Facebook, you can be your full-name and lock yourself down so people who are not your friend see absolutely nothing about you. If you are worried about people finding you on social media, don’t be on social media.

Ever since I got back from HighEdWeb ’15 in October, I’ve been trying Slack with my integrated marketing team. I’m working on a larger post about it, but I’ve managed to convince my team to use it, which was probably the hardest part of the process. What I like are the integrations. We have Twitter, Wufoo, and Basecamp tied into Slack to give the team constant updates, just like the Weather Channel.


If you’re looking for a fun, low-cost entry into VR, I’d recommend checking out the View-Master Virtual Reality Starter Pack. It’s a 21st century version of the old plastic viewer that took those photo discs, but not you put your smartphone in it. The apps that come with it are kind-of lame, but it’s fully compatible with apps and sites built for Google Cardboard, including version of Google Earth. If you have an Android phone, there are some videos in the YouTube app optimized for Cardboard and it’s pretty neat to stand in the middle of an orchestra and looking around while they play. I can definitely see lots of uses for Higher Ed here and I’m starting to get what all the fuss around VR is about.

 

One of the things that’s irked me about Facebook’s fan page setup is that fact that you couldn’t change the image that went along with a link you posted. You could page through multiple choices, but you couldn’t outright change it.

This was especially annoying when you didn’t own the site you were linking to. Sometimes sites had bad images, sometimes no image that would show in the item preview. I don’t have hard numbers, but I believe that people click less when there’s a misleading or missing photo.

Here’s an example of it done with no image. No offense to WPTuts+, of course.

Screen Shot 2013-07-02 at 9.43.26 AM

Recently, I’ve noticed Facebook has changed this behavior on business/like pages so that you can upload your own image to go with a site you’re liking to. That window now looks like this:

Screen Shot 2013-07-02 at 9.29.41 AM

That’s pretty interesting. Now I can make sure a better icon appears there. The social media manager part of me thinks that’s awfully useful, but the brand manager in me slightly worries that there isn’t much stopping people from posting links to my stories and websites with images that are misleading and/or don’t follow my brand standards attached to them.

With Facebook’s recent updates to its Edgerank algorithm, you may have noticed that the posts you make on your fan page are reaching fewer and fewer people. I’ve certainly noticed it, and it’s frustrating to know that we’re only reaching a small percentage of our total fans.

So why did Facebook make this change? Will Cathcart, Facebook’s product manager for news feed told TechCrunch:

“We made a relatively large ranking change in September that was designed to reduce spam complaints from users. We used [spam] reports at an aggregate level to find Pages or apps generating a lot of reports [and decrease their reach]. We’ve also added personalized attempts to reduce presence of posts you’re likely to complain about.”

Do I believe the changes were made to cut spam? Not 100%. Were they made to raise money for Facebook, which now has shareholders who want a return on their investment ($FB). I’m sure that played into it. The problem for page admins is that our content is not reaching everyone that “liked” us, even though they explicitly chose to “like” us, we didn’t add them without permission. Richard Metzger at Dangerous Minds goes into great detail about this switch here, saying:

But it wasn’t just the so-called “fan pages,” individual Facebook users were also starting to notice that they weren’t seeing much in their newsfeeds anymore from the various entities they “liked”—or even updates from their closest friends and family members. Something was amiss, but unless you had a larger “data set” to look at—or a formerly thriving online business that was now getting creamed—it probably wasn’t something that you noticed or paid that much attention to.

I’ve seen this handled different ways, including this way which I found via Matt Klawitter.

That’s one way to do it, but that’s putting a lot of responsibility on the user to not only find what you’re talking about, but actually completing the task correctly.

The other option is to pony up and use the promoted posts functionality. This isn’t a big deal for the huge brands out there, but for colleges and universities, it’s a challenge. I certainly don’t have the budget to spend $40 per post to reach everyone who has indicated they’re a fan of my university. That bill would quickly run into the thousands of dollars a month just to try to reach some of our audience – the same audience who said they want to get our updated when the liked the page.

I wonder if there’s a middle road for Facebook to take with small and medium size fan pages – namely a subscription model. If I could be guaranteed a certain amount of reach per post, I could easily make the ROI case internally and get budget for that. I think a price like $99 would be very attractive to many page owners, IHE’s included.

Will Facebook do it? Probably not, but give it a few earnings reports and maybe the tune will change.