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Preview: a shel of my former self

Holtz Communications + Technology | Blog

blogging at the intersection of communication and technology

Published: 2017-07-21T15:48:00+00:00


(Abbreviated) Friday Wrap #223: Amazon vs. the world, gender stereotyping standards, doing AMAs well


I extract items for the Wrap from my link blog, which you’re welcome to follow. To make sure you never miss an issue, subscribe to my weekly email briefing. Data Journalism for Communicators Data journalism is more than just a trend in the publishing world. Its momentum is crazy big with media outlets investing more and more into the practice of telling stories with numbers. The PR world has not caught on. There is potential in pitching data stories as well as producing our own data journalism to elevate our content marketing efforts. I’ll get you up to speed on data journalism in my July 27 webinar. Register By the way, I recorded a short video offering some insight into data journalism. Watch A Briefer-Than-Usual Wrap I had planned to put the Wrap together on the four-hour flight from San Francisco to Chicago, but United’s WiFi wouldn’t cooperate. I’ll be at a conference all day on Friday, so I’m throwing together some of the interesting links I’ve found in the last week without commentary. I’ll be back to the usual rundown next week. News The UK’s Advertising Standards Authority will introduce new guidelines on gender stereotyping in ads. Read more Facebook will test subscription paywalls for Instant Articles, letting publishers sell subscriptions directly through Facebook. Read more Panoply Media—one of the big podcast networks—is now using Nielsen data to target audiences with ads inserted into its podcasts. Read more Apple has revealed new emojis coming this year, including zombies, a genie, and T-Rex. Read more Facebook has made it possible for any Page to create a Group, reflecting the company’s new emphasis on Groups. Read more A WordPress update lets you schedule tweets, Facebook posts or LinkedIn updates in’s admin interface. also introduced a brand new sharing section below each post in the admin interface. Read more Almost two dozen engineers from Google’s Android team held a Reddit AMA to talk about features planned for the next release. They were well-prepared and answered the questions from the geek crowd and Android faithful, demonstrating one way to do a Reddit “Ask Me Anything” well. Read more Google Analytics is getting a whole lot easier. Rather than have to study the multiple layers of data Analytics users are accustomed to, now you can just ask a question, like “How many users came to our site from Europe last month?” “Why” questions aren’t supported yet, but they’re coming. Read more Amazon has introduced Spark, a shoppable feed of stories that will remind you of Pinterest to some extent and Instagram to another degree. “”>Read more Two dozen Google Android team members conducted a Reddit AMA (Ask Me Anything) about Android O. Phone details are interesting but the use of a Reddit AMA as a way to reveal features (and get instant feedback from your hardest-core fans and critics is genius. Read more Blockchain is finding its way into the media and advertising industries. Uses include monetizing content, fraud detection, white-listing, and more. Read more When ccnnecting with influencers, consider how many of their followers might be fake. (One study put CNN’s fake follower count on Twitter at 12 million.) Read more Amazon’s Video Direct—open to content producers of all sizes—is taking on YouTube and Facebook. Read more Research Gen-Z is now the largest segment of the population, representing 26% of the marketplace. Combined, Millennials and Gen-Z account for 48% of the population. Read more People who get their news via social media and search don’t remember the original source of the news. Read more Instagram tops cyber-bullying study; it’ the vehicle for the meanest comments, with 7% of young users saying they’ve been bullied on the app. Read more Longer videos drive higher engagement. “Mid-form and long-form videos, which are a[...]

A New Model for Employee Communication, Part 5: Consultation


This is the latest installment in a series of posts exploring a new model of employee communication, one designed to deliver measurable results that demonstrate the impact on the organization in ways that matter to leaders. In this post, we continue examining the outer ring of the model with a look at consultation. The series: Part 1: Introduction Part 2: Overview Part 3: Alignment Part 4: Listening The outer ring of the model represents the work that employee communicators engage in every day; they are infused in all communications. Consultation is the third outer ring segment. Most employee communication departments engage in some consultation. Few carry it beyond the basics of advising leadership how to communicate under various circumstances. Even that entry-level form of consultation requires a high degree of credibility and trust from leaders. It requires a seat at the table (a phrase I am thoroughly sick of, but hey, it is what it is). Communication counsel can prevent leaders from employing a cringe-inducing euphemism. (I saw a video the other day of a jargon critic who shamed HSBC for announcing “the bank will be demising the role of 942 relationship managers.”) I had just begun a new job as manager of employee communication for a Fortune 400 pharma, the leadership of which had already made a momentous decision: The company was adopting a shareholder value enhancement philosophy. SVE was the philosophy that sunk Enron and WorldCom, among others. At its core, SVE requires everyone to make all decisions based on whether they will lead to greater shareholder value. “Work with the training department and communicate this to employees,” I was told. I tried to argue that there was no good way to make shareholders the overarching criterion for every decision. There is no way to get employees excited to get out of bed every morning and fight rush-hour traffic so they could enhance shareholder value. But the decision had been made. Working with the training department, we did our best to tell this story and bring employees along. You can imagine the result. One wonderful story did come out of SVE at this company, though. The president’s office overlooked an acre or two of park-like landscaping on the campus. One day, a bird flew into the window and cracked it. The president called Bob from the facilities department, the only employee who wore a tie and a toolbelt. Bob saw the crack, nodded, and said he’d be right back. Fifteen minutes later, he returned with a can of caulk and a rag. He filled in the crack with caulk, then rubbed it smooth with the rag. Befuddled, the president said, “I can still see the crack. I want a new window.” Looking genuinely confused, Bob said, “How does a new window enhance shareholder value?” Employees may not have liked the message, but Bob demonstrated that at least they understood it. Related: Employee vs. Internal Communication: Why I’m Bucking the Trend A communicator with a seat at the table can make a case against decisions that simply cannot be communicated (or prepare leaders for the fact that they’ll just have to live with a bad reaction). You probably don’t need a brochure Counseling leaders on the many facets of communication is just one form of consultation, though. Any business unit leader team leader should be able to call on us for any kind of communication help. The days should be long gone when we get calls that insist, “I need a brochure,” which used to be a routine request. We should be able to ask, “What are you trying to achieve?” and recommend the best approach to achieving it. A well-equipped communication team understands more about communication than just messaging and corporate journalism. We understand models of communication; the flow of information through an organization’s formal and informal channels (including internal influencers and the grapevine); we know the effect on employees of a frustrating encounter[...]

Employee vs. Internal Communication: Why I’m Bucking the Trend


When I unveiled my new model for employee communication, I noted that I opt to refer to the function as “employee communication,” not the far more common “internal communication.” Ultimately, you can call it Earl for all I care as long as you do it well and deliver meaningful and measurable results. Some recent conversations calling my preference into question, though, have led me to explain myself. That’s right. I’m going to Shelsplain. “Internal communication” is the clear choice. A Google search finds 6.9 million “internal communication” results compared to 434,000 for “employee communication.” LinkedIn lists 1,720 “internal communication” jobs and finds the term in more than 161,000 profiles. compared to 914 open jobs and 28,000 profiles using “employee communication.” Paul Barton wrote about the difference back in 2014, admitting he “always preferred the sound of “employee communication” but saw the rationale for “internal.” For some reason, though, there’s a view that “employee communication” is one-directional. I don’t get that at all. I have seen internal comms departments that are mostly one-way and employee comms functions that are multi-directional; I have never associated the label with that kind of practice one way or the other. The case for “internal communication” is based on the notion that employees represent only one internal public, none of which should be ignored. I agree wholeheartedly. Boards of directors, committees, volunteer leaders (notably in nonprofit organizations), contractors, labor unions, and strategic partners are among audiences that don’t fit under the “public relations” label. For a host of reasons, they deserve to be engaged in a sound, well-planned, responsive, two-way, multi-channel conversation with the organization that, at some level, they serve. Employee Communication Needs are Unique This is where I fall on the “employee side” of the question. (If you call your employees “associates,” that’s fine, too. Same thing.) The fact that there are internal groups who are not employees does not mean that they should be bundled into the same communication loop as employees. They might get some of the same messages, but even though they qualify as “internal,” the information needs of actual employees are distinct and any strategy to communicate with them needs to recognize and accommodate that uniqueness. More than any other stakeholder group, in fact, employees deserve to be the focus of a unique communication approach. And, frankly, each of these group’s unique needs should be considered in order to develop a communication approach that produces its own strong, measurable results. Just how distinct a group is the employee population? Roger D’Aprix, one of the most important thought leaders in the field, once called them “informed insiders.” Sure, a board committee is made up of insiders, too, and one hopes they are well-informed. But are they connected to the employee grapevine? Doubtful. Would they appreciate the volume of communication an employee needs just to be able to do their job? Ha! Do they need morning huddles with their supervisors just to stay current? Give me a break. Do they need to align their day-to-day work with company objectives? Only if their relationship with the company is full-time, which, let’s face it, is hardly ever the case. When I was a volunteer leader, I was informed about things the organization felt I needed to know to fulfill my function. Did I have a clue what was going on with staff? Only if I had lunch with one of them, and then only what they chose to reveal. Employees, as a group, stand alone. It’s not only that I find “internal” to be too broad a word. It is also an adjective. “Employee” is a noun. There c[...]

FIR Podcast #96: The Crisis That Keeps On Giving


Cross-posted from the FIR Podcast Network In the July installment of The Hobson & Holtz Report, Neville and Shel talked about these topics: A 15-year-old participating in a Work Experience program took over the Twitter account of the beleaguered Southern Rail in the U.K. The response was undoubtedly a welcome break for Southern Rail’s social media team, but what did it ultimately accomplish? The online publication Quartz experiments with display-type ads in the text of stories that let users ask an Artificial Intelligence-based chatbot named Hugo for more information about just the stuff you’re interested in. Will Artificial Intelligence eventually take over the creative side of content marketing? Takata’s air bag crisis is in its second decade, leading ultimately to the once-mighty company’s bankruptcy. The tale is filled with intrigue and drama. The limitations and restrictions of social media channels have led brands and publishers to employ sneaky workarounds to game the systems. One company has put a price on the cost of a recent ransomware attack, but the underlying reasons companies were vulnerable to the attack in the first place means there’s work for communicators to do. Dan York’s Tech Report looks at Microsoft’s new LinkedIn app for Windows 10, issues with the Skype app rollouts for iOS and Android and the changes those issues prompted, and why some publishers are abandoning Snapchat for Instagram. Connect with Neville at @jangles. Listen to his podcast, The Small Data Forum. Links to the source material for this episode are on Contentle. Special thanks to Jay Moonah for the opening and closing music. FIR is recorded using Zencastr. About Neville Hobson: Neville Hobson was co-host of The Hobson & Holtz Report for over 10 years. For over 15 years, Neville has been a voice of experience and influence when it comes to speaking about digital technologies, disruptive change in workplaces and marketplaces, relevant trends to pay close attention to, and what it all means for your business. His experiences embrace deep understanding and subject-matter expertise in contemporary business issues that include social, digital and cognitive technologies, connecting that with a career in traditional public relations, marketing communication, employee, compensation and benefits communication, and investor relations. Based in the Thames Valley some 30 miles west of London, Neville works either from his home office, or from a client’s location; or from wherever he has a good network connection. [...]

Friday Wrap #222: Social media diversfiies the news you see, astroturfing Reddit, online harassment


I extract items for the Wrap from my link blog, which you’re welcome to follow. To make sure you never miss an issue, subscribe to my weekly email briefing. Data Journalism for Communications: Upcoming Webinar Data journalism is more than just a trend in the publishing world. Its momentum is crazy big with media outlets investing more and more into the practice of telling stories with numbers. The PR world has not caught on. There is potential in pitching data stories as well as producing our own data journalism to elevate our content marketing efforts. I’ll get you up to speed on data journalism in my July 27 webinar. Register The Big Stories It’s not just retail being hammered by shifting preferences—PepsiCo’s second-quarter earnings of $1.50 per share beat analyst expectations by $.10 in its most recently-reported quarter. You might think that would be the biggest news from CEO Indra Nooyi’s conference call. It wasn’t. Drink and snack companies, she said, are suffering from the same behavioral shifts as retail: more spending is happening online and people are spending their money on experiences, health, and wellness instead of possessions. As Bloomberg notes, PepsiCo and its rivals “spent decades building a distribution system that serves vending machines and brick-and-mortar stores, but they’re still in the beginning stages of selling products directly to customers online.” The takeaway: Both trends will affect most businesses. An online presence transcends a website, a social media presence, and an app; it’s where transactions happen. Whether your company is B2B or B2C, you need to make it easy—and worthwhile—for people to engage and do business there, through any device they prefer to use. Meanwhile, the shift from buying stuff to spending on experiences (such as travel, music events like Coachella and Bonnaroo, and dining) and health and wellness has transcended Millennials to become a preference across all generations. We have to consider how to accommodate these preferences. Consider that a couple airlines are hosting on-the-ground food-and-entertainment experiences to attract affluent young travelers. What can your business do to deliver experiences that will convert people into customers? Read more Human content creators, rest easy…for now—AI is generating content, but its attempts at creative content are less than optimum. Gartner predicts 20% of all business content will be produced by AI by next year, but much of that will take the form of formulaic material like earnings releases. AI attempts at creative content have been “well-structured, informative, and accurate, but lacking in the artistic elan that marks out a human author’s work,” according to SEO strategist Clark Boyd. That’s not likely to change soon, but “if AI systems attain the capacity to think creatively and independently, there is no reason why this skill would not be applied to content generation.” We’re most likely headed to AI-human collaboration. “The lines between human and machine are constantly shifting, and that matters. We need to know what this technology can do, what it can’t do, and where we should position ourselves to capitalize on upcoming possibilities for collaboration with AI systems.” The takeaway: I can’t say it any better than Boyd. If we don’t learn about AI, we won’t understand the skills that add value to our contribution. Those contributions will be necessary, but if we don’t know how to position ourselves, organizations will look for people who have those skills outside of the communication industry. Read more Toyota funds Research Institute with $100 million—Toyota’s R&D unit is “spinning out a corporate venture capital arm that will finance and incubate startups in Artificial Intelligence, robotics, and auton[...]

What do United Airlines and Silicon Valley VCs have in common?


Social media has redefined crisis communication. That’s old news. No worthwhile crisis plan doesn’t account for the speed with which social media can accelerate and amplify the worst, most damaging messages about a crisis. Few companies are not prepared to respond immediately, even before the facts are known, to acknowledge they’re aware of the situation. After that, they know prolonged silences are intolerable; frequent updates—even if they just inform the public that you don’t have any new information—are the norm. Recent events have cast a light on another social media factor: Emboldenment. On this week’s For Immediate Release podcast, my guest co-host, David Spark, pointed to a June 30 New York Times article quoting several women about the culture of harassment in the tech startup world. The Katie Benner piece notes that “their stories came out slowly, even hesitantly, at first. Then in a rush.” The rush was prompted, at least in part, by women feeling emboldened to tell their own stories after reading the accounts shared by their peers, nearly always via social media channels. Susan J. Fowler’s account of harassment at Uber, posted to her blog on February 19, kicked the revelations into high gear. Several of the accounts have been posted to the publishing platform, Medium, like this one. (Medium has also been the forum for mea culpas by the VCs who have been called out, like Dave McClure’s, whose VC firm, 500 Startups, maintains its blog on Medium). Accounting for emboldenment Knowing that a few women taking a stand and sharing their stories would embolden more to share their stories should have led communicators at VC firms—assuming VC firms bother to employ communicators or PR agencies—to start asking, “Are there women out there with stories to tell about any of our people?” If so, encouraging an apology before they were named might have carried more weight than posting one afterward. (Not that an apology is by any means enough.) Any crisis communicator will tell you that it’s better to know about a looming crisis than be blindsided by one, and that revealing misbehavior proactively is better than doing it reactively. PR reps for VCs should have known about social media emboldenment from United Airlines. The saga of the passenger dragged off a flight by airport security when he refused to give up his seat to a member of a flight crew became a sensation largely because of passenger video shared online and picked up by the media. That story inspired a steady drumbeat of passenger horror stories; hardly a week passes without another passenger’s experience (a) posted to social media, (b) amplified on social media, (c) reported by the press, which leads to (d) more amplification on social media. (The latest—at least, the latest that I’m aware of—is about a woman forced to hold her 25-year-old child for an entire flight after buying a seat for him because United re-sold that seat. (Shirley Yamauchi said she was afraid to argue too much because she’s Asian, and she was well aware of the dragging incident, which involved an Asian man.) Oh, wait. I just searched and there’s a more recent story. What the hell, United? In the days before social media, it is unlikely any of the United Airlines stories would have made headlines. Even if the initial story had been reported, odds are none of the subsequent customer-service outrages would have earned coverage. With newspapers and broadcast pretty much the only channels available for telling such stories, and with limited time and space, what passenger could have called so much attention to their plight that a newspaper would devote four or five inches to it? And even if one did cover it, through what medium would the outrage spread, prompting others to pile on? Amplification of a different kind After the d[...]

A New Model for Employee Communication, Part 4: Listening


This is the latest installment in a series of posts exploring a new model of employee communication, one designed to deliver measurable results that demonstrate the impact on the organization in ways that matter to leaders. In this post, we continue examining the outer ring of the model with a look at listening. The series: Part 1: Introduction Part 2: Overview Part 3: Alignment The outer ring of the model represents the work that employee communicators engage in every day; they are infused in all communications. Listening is the second outer ring segment and a critical communication activity. After all, it’s tough to communicate in any circumstance without knowing what the other participant in the conversation is saying. Without listening, there is no two-way communication, no matter how much employees may be telling us. Listening—or monitoring—is a standard practice among our counterparts in public relations and marketing, which make huge investments in tools that allow them, often in near real time, to detect subtle shifts in sentiment or new topics of conversation. They are equipped to use this intelligence to communicate quickly, taking advantage of the intelligence gleaned from the monitoring to send relevant and timely messages. Despite the importance of the internal audience, and the fact that employees use many of the same kinds of tools as external audiences—blogs, social and collaborative networks, messaging apps—similar monitoring is virtually unheard of inside the enterprise. While there aren’t a lot of internal monitoring tools that match the capabilities of Sysomos, Datasift, Meltwater, and Critical Mention (to name just a few), there are ways to extract the same kind of intelligence from internal conversations. Note: Since measurement is a separate element of the model, I’m not including it as an element of listening, though no communicator should underestimate how important it is to measure how well your communications are meeting employees’ and leaders’ needs and expectations. Putting your finger on the pulse Delivering content to employees without knowing their general attitude about the company and their work can create more problems than it solves. Sometimes you can just intuit what employees are (or will be) thinking. In my corporate days, I worked for a company that planned to open a new multi-million-dollar cafeteria that had been in the works for years and under construction for about one year. I was informed of the day the ribbon-cutting was planned. It just happened to be less than a week after a planned layoff. It didn’t take deep levels of insight to know a lot of employees would be pissed. The cafeteria included patio seating and a waterfall designed to baffle noise from a nearby freeway, but employees would undoubtedly wonder how many jobs could have been saved if we had just kept the old cafeteria (or, at least, skipped the freakin’ waterfall). I suggested we proactively communicate the difference between capital and overhead expenses so employees would understand that the cost of the cafeteria would be amortized over its lifetime; it wouldn’t have affected the financial reasons for the layoff. (Leadership rejected my plan, telling me I’d be starting a fire where none existed. The cafeteria was opened. Employees were pissed. Leadership came back to me and said, “Huh. I guess we need that communication after all.” Of course, now it was reactive instead of proactive and far less effective.) Sometimes, though, you have to do some work to assess employees’ general mindset. Some techniques that work include the following: Data If you’re communicating with employees digitally, you have data. Your intranet produces data on which stories employees are reading and videos they’re watching, how long they’[...]

July 27 Webinar: Data Journalism for Communicators



Publishers have awakened to data journalism in a big way. Once a niche form of reporting that occupied a small corner of the newsroom, telling stories with numbers—both narratively and visually—has become a media staple.

For business, data journalism represents some threats but massive untapped opportunity. The threats come from not being aware of what publicly-available data may reveal about your company or client. For example, a watchdog organization in California used public records from the department of health to discover and report on a large hospital chain getting higher Medicare reimbursements than they were entitled to by reporting worse medical conditions than patients actually had.

Knowing what public data might reveal about your company or client—data journalists are now studying in search of stories—can help you prepare for a crisis (and, even better, serve as a catalyst for getting the organization’s act together internally).

Getting your head wrapped around data journalism is most vital, though, for the opportunities it presents. Yet, while journalism schools are starting to add data journalism classes to their curriculums, and resources are cropping up to help journalists report data, few in the PR and organizational communications field are talking about it at all.

That’s nuts!

I have been studying data journalism intensely for the past several months and will share what I have learned that communicators can put into practice in a one-hour webinar set for noon EDT on Thursday, July 27. Webinar participants will learn…

  • What data journalism is and how big it has become
  • How reporters are looking for and using data
  • How to find and pitch data stories to get great earned media
  • Why telling stories with numbers can enhance your content marketing strategy
  • The many uses to which data journalism can be applied for employee communications
  • How data visualizations can attract attention to information that would otherwise be painfully dull

One webinar registration will cover everyone in your department or on your team. The registration also gets you access to the webinar replay to watch as many times as you (and other members of your team) like. And, registered participants will get a one-page “cheat sheet” with key information and resources.

Register here.


FIR Podcast #95: Skip the Sizzle


Cross-posted from the FIR Podcast Network David Spark joined me to talk about these topics: The Wall Street Journal has shut down eight of its blogs, with an editor of one of the blogs noting that the tools for telling stories have evolved. Does blogging still have a place? One of the last program items at any conference is the sizzle reel for next year’s conference. And every sizzle reel is like every other sizzle reel. We can do better. Email continues to rule internal and external communications, with more than 90% of communicators responding to a PRSA survey indicating they use it for both. As for newer technologies? The communications industry is slow to adapt. Sexual harassment in the tech industry, especially by VCs, seems to have reached epidemic proportions. Or is there a new phenomenon in play, fueled by social media, that one person drawing attention to a problem through social media emboldens others to share their own stories? The same thing is happening with passengers abused by United Airlines. Public opinion has shifted and it’s now economically beneficial to include an LGBT angle in advertising and marketing. Members of the community, though, can see through opportunistic ads. Authenticity is key, according to an Ogilvy study. Tech correspondent Dan York reports on Snapchat making it possible (and easy) to create filters from within the app and to attach links to a snap. Connect with David at @dspark. Give a listen to David’s Teardown podcast. Links to the source material for this episode are on Contentle. Special thanks to Jay Moonah for the opening and closing music. FIR is recorded using Zencastr. About today’s guest co-host: David Spark is a veteran tech journalist and founder the brand journalism firm Spark Media Solutions. Spark has worked with brands such as IBM, Microsoft, HP, and Indycar Racing. He’s reported on the tech scene for more than 18 years in more than 40 media outlets, and is the author of “THREE FEET FROM SEVEN FIGURES: One-on-One Engagement Techniques to Qualify More Leads at Trade Shows” available at [...]

Friday Wrap #221: WSJ shutters blogs, Photobucket accused of blackmail, doctors adopt Snapchat


I extract items for the Wrap from my link blog, which you’re welcome to follow. To make sure you never miss an issue, subscribe to my weekly email briefing. The Big Stories Wall Street Journal closes eight blogs—The Law Blog (one of the Journal’s oldest blogs), China Real Time, Speakeasy, and five other blogs have been shuttered because, according to one of the bloggers, the tools for telling stories have changed. Josh Chin, who wrote the China Real Time blog, said, “We plan to transfer the same energy and insight that animated the blog to covering China on WSJ’s other platforms.” The demise of these blogs is part of the WSJ 2020 project , an internal review focused mainly on cutting costs through consolidation of sections and other steps. Earlier, The New York Times shut down its City Room blog, noting “The way technology changes and the way reader nature changes every five years now, its lifespan was just so much shorter.” Metro Editor Wendell Jamieson said, “It’s truly the post-blog era.” The Journal has also ended its news digest app, opting instead to focus on improving its push notification strategy. The social media accounts for the Journal’s closed blogs will remain active with content from Journal reporters. The takeaway: We have heard before that blogs are dead. Are they? The truth is, you don’t need one. You can publish on Medium, on LinkedIn, on FlipBoard, and on and on a host of other platforms that actually make it easier to notify your readers when new content is available. Facebook and Twitter are more aligned with sharing content from these platforms than from a privately-held blog. Still, there’s value in having all your content in a central hub that you own, even if it’s no longer your primary vehicle for sharing content. That’s my approach, by the way. LinkedIn delivers far more engagement for my posts than my blog does, but I continue to post to my blog, just in case (a) people discover it via search and (b) just in case LinkedIn decides to change or eliminate its publishing functionality. Had the decision at The Wall Street Journal been mine, I would have been inclined to change the blog to a repository of great relevant content published elsewere rather than scrap it altogether. Read more Snapchat is becoming another social network—Snapchat has always touted itself as the anti-social network. It was designed for private sharing, not the public blasts that characterize content shared on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram. Snapchat Stories was the first opportunity users had to share content publicly. But all that seems to be going out the window with the latest updates. (The ability to share links is a big deal, especially for marketers and advertisers.) On Wednesday, the company introduced that anyone can share links on any snap they share, whether it’s with friends or on their Story. Snapchat had recently introduced Snap Maps, which lets any of your friends know where you are. The Takeaway: Snapchat’s growth has stalled, its shares are hovering around their IPO price, and Story users are exiting for Instagram. Snapchat has been struggling to cope with Instagram and other services copying its features, but competing head-to-head with the big social networks could be even more challenging. If the audience you’re trying to reach are on Snapchat, it remains a useful channel. But keep a close eye on it and be ready to shift should more users flee, which could happen when they realize it’s no longer focused on creating a great experience for private sharing. Read more Communications technology requires the right people—One of the promises of communications-focused technology is the ability to match a message to the right people b[...]