Social Media Platforms Release Updates to Keep Users Engaged, Combat Misinformation and Tackle Inequity

As the world prepares for life after the pandemic, social media platforms are in a scramble to fill their coffers with new features to keep users engaged, combat misinformation and tackle newsfeed inequities. 

In April, Facebook announced a series of algorithmic changes to expand user engagement, including a “Suggested Topics’” prompt in the newsfeed. The feature is based on users’ demonstrated interests, such as the content, people, and Pages a user interacts with. Another discovery tool, “Page Suggestions” was also added. But it’s the social media giant’s new “Related Discussions” prompt that has some people on the fence

Once a Facebook user interacts with a post, an animated icon will now appear with a link to see groups and other users who have shared the same post. While the feature’s intent is to deliver more context around a users’ interests by showing them how other people are discussing the topic, according to honchos at Facebook, some worry that it will add to the already fiery and divisive nature of the platform. 

At any rate, Facebook is hoping its newly-refined ranking processes, like its updated user surveys and feedback assessments, will help flag posts that are causing a negative reaction (literally weighted, in part, by the 😡 emoji!) 

That feature is also part of the company’s initiative to combat offensive content and misinformation, following intense scrutiny the social media giant has fanned the flames of hate speech and fringe groups. Among the new user features rolled out during the month, Facebook announced its new Oversight Board, which will allow users to appeal Facebook’s decisions to keep content on or off the platform. 

On the heels of the #BlackLivesMatter and #StopAsianHate movements, other social media platforms announced their efforts to curb inequity in their algorithms. Instagram has appointed an Equity Team to improve diversity on its platform, and Twitter plans to research whether its machine-learning causes “unintentional harm” by analyzing potential racial and gender bias in its image algorithm. 

Will it work? It remains to be seen how effective these new updates will be, but users are sure to make their voices heard if or when social media companies miss the mark.

Social Media Giants Battle it Out in an Increasingly Crowded Playground

March Digital Industry Updates

The end of the snowy season has social media platforms whipped up into a feeding frenzy. Following the success of Clubhouse — the popular invite-only audio social app, which quickly gained steam throughout the winter and recently celebrated more than 13 million downloads — all three social media giants are piloting their own audio-only features. 

But Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn find themselves in a crowded playground. On the heels of the pandemic, social media’s other rising star, TikTok, announced its efforts to boost engagement with its new ‘Playlists’ feature; the beta option allows selected creators to group their clips into themed collections. In the seemingly never-ending battle royale to ride the trend wave, YouTube launched its clone version of TikTok, aptly named ‘Shorts,’ while Facebook caved into creators’ demands to expand in-stream monetization options for short-form videos.    

The near-daily rollout of new features from social media platforms marks an era of increasingly competitive (and copycat) conditions, as they all furiously try to expand their platforms while also attempting to preserve the integrity that drew users to join their platforms in the first place. 

So, it’s no surprise that social media channels are scrambling to maintain a sense of brand loyalty and transparency. The issue is something that has come under scrutiny as of late as privacy, misinformation and data-sharing concerns have wracked the social media community. It’s also one of the reasons Twitter is providing more options in its rule and moderation processes through its new Safety Center, which provides users with insight into reported, blocked, or muted Tweets, and raises the red flag when they’re at risk of suspension. The flock also launched ‘Birdwatch,’ its crowdsourced fact-checking process to help combat misinformation.  

And speaking of misinformation, Google recently took the liberty to debunk audience intelligence platform SparkToro’s claim that only 35% of Google searches resulted in a click to a website, saying in an article that the search engine “[sends] billion of visits to websites every day, and the traffic we’ve sent to the open web has increased every year since Google Search was first created.” Google argued the claims were misleading, and that some “zero-click” ads were still valuable to the overall user experience. 

In any case, the debate continues. It’s all a part of navigating, and monetizing business,  in a digital world. As digital marketing grows, social media companies will be forced to find ways to provide clear and transparent attribution to prove their value to users. As they do, we’ll be watching — and learning — so we can, too.

Letter to the team

We wanted to share a recent letter that our CEO, Madhavi Rao, shared with our team. We are looking forward to continued growth and development as an organization.

Hi team –

I wanted to share my thoughts on the recent horrific events that took place in Atlanta and my thoughts around the ongoing injustices that continue to come to light. What these things have meant for my life, my family and SoMe, which is a very important extension of my family. This is a really hard letter for me to write. For a number of reasons…

  • I don’t normally talk about my feelings (Bad and has all sorts of other hidden underlying implications)

  • Racism is a topic that I have been taught never to talk about. Of course, racism and hate exist, and many of us will experience it, but keep your head down and work hard. The people who taught me this had good reason to raise me this way.

  • Hate crimes and lack of equity have been happening for a long time and continue to. Actually thinking about it is painful as it puts into question my place in society in this country that I love so deeply.

  • I don’t want to come off as insensitive. These topics are complicated – how to think about it, what to do, what not to do, what not to say – it can be dizzying and really difficult to navigate. Like so many, I am terrified of saying or doing the wrong thing. I don’t want to look back with regret, so sometimes it is easier to keep quiet.

  • The topic is just heavy in general and I don’t want to bring people down.

Here’s why I decided to write about it.

  • I have the privilege of owning a company. That puts me in a place of leadership, whether or not I am qualified to be in this position. With privilege comes responsibility. My responsibility is not only to create a work environment that is profitable and that gives the opportunity for the team to do great work, but one that is just, equal, kind, and compassionate. SoMe is my second home. When things like this happen in the world, I am talking about it with my family. I need to be talking about it at my company. I am proud of the things that we have accomplished together and want to build up this part of our culture.

  • I realize that opening the doors to this discussion has a huge impact. I have always been of the mindset that you don’t talk about what you are doing – you demonstrate it through your actions. Well, that is important, but talking is important too. That’s just part of my culture and upbringing but talking is the first step.

  • I don’t live in the same world that my parents live in. My parents never talked about injustices, racism, sexism, because there wasn’t a strong movement that encouraged that, especially where we lived. And they taught us kids to be that way too – put your head down, work harder, be better – you can’t be denied opportunity and success if you are just better. They wanted to keep us safe. We don’t live in that world anymore. Thank goodness. And I don’t want to live in the past. There are a growing number of people who are aware, who want to be more proactive against injustices, and I feel blessed that I have those people around me daily.

  • I am a minority woman. Despite those designations, I have a lot of privilege and I need to use my voice. For myself, for my family, and for the greater community.

  • I get to live in the United States. A country that I love – a country that my immigrant parents love. My hope for this country runs deep – I feel saddened by the things that are happening around me. Deeply saddened and the reality is, we only really know a small fraction of what is going on. It is an ache that goes to my core. What does it mean for my place in this country? When I was a young kid, I was blissfully unaware of the injustices. Over the last 20 years it has been painful at times to become aware. But I love this place and I want to do my part to make it a place where everyone can come together, contribute their ideas and live a wonderful life. We have a long way to go and building a company community that works together to be better each day is a small drop in the bucket, but small drops come together to form oceans.

  • What has been in the news isn’t new – there has been a history of violence in this country towards minorities. But I do believe we continue to grow as a country. The fact that these things are coming to light more and even being covered, shows how much we have grown. That being said, the way it’s being covered and the outcomes show how much we need to continue to grow.

  • You have to start somewhere – no matter when you start to say something, it is always going to feel uncomfortable. I want to lean into that – not shy away from it. I am tired of not saying anything and blending in. It does not make sense to continue to operate this way. I want to live a life of courage.

What this means for SoMe…

  • We will more deeply treat our company as a community of people who are all striving to educate themselves on these types of issues and become more involved in making a positive impact

    • More consistent, dedicated time to talk as a group and in small groups

    • Ongoing social impact education sessions and follow ups

  • We will speak out more outwardly and openly as a company our stance on these issues through our channels

  • We will continue to be focused on figuring out how we can walk the walk and how we can make a positive impact as an agency

    • Continued dedication to operating a company that gives back to the community in various forms

Because our time on this earth is precious. Because we only live once, I want to do whatever is in my power to make a positive impact. I am humble enough to realize that these issues are extremely complicated and we will stumble, but if what we do has some positive impact, we are in a better place than where we started. We spend the majority of our days at work, and I have the privilege of working with each of you. These topics need to be addressed. We all have things that we need to learn and work on. We have to start within our spheres. My family, friends, and SoMe make up my sphere.

I am proud of the individuals that make up this team, the work we have done and progress we have already made as an organization. I am energized to continue building a company that we are all proud of and do the kind of work that makes us feel fulfilled.

Our upcoming conversation about diversity in the workplace will be a great step in this journey, and I will be sending out more information on the session tomorrow. Thank you guys for your time and attention.


FB Strikes Back Against Apple’s Efforts to Curb Data Harvesting

Curb Data Harvesting

We’re just two months into the year and the nation’s biggest tech giants are already going head to head. Last month, iPhone maker Apple officially announced widespread efforts to curb data harvesting and provide more transparency and control over how companies track user data across websites and apps. Among the changes included revamped user permission settings and the introduction of the company’s new “Privacy Nutrition Label” — which will give users easy-to-read information based on the developer’s self-reported data practices. 

While some in the tech industry celebrated the move, Facebook was none too pleased. In a conference call, CEO Mark Zuckerberg told stockholders “we increasingly see Apple as one our biggest competitors,” and launched a PR campaign of its own to propose that increased user controls could harm small business users who rely on ad targeting to deliver personalized ads.   

So what does this mean for marketers? While retargeting strategies certainly won’t go anywhere soon, how websites, apps, and other platforms collect, randomize and share data is likely to change. To Zuckerburg’s point, this move towards data-protection will almost certainly curtail marketers ability to serve personalized ads to targeted audiences on a wide array of channels, including Paid Search, Paid Social, and Programmatic— which could cut into the profit margins of small businesses. It’s unclear the extent to which personalized advertising will be handicapped, but time will tell. What we do know is that Facebook and Apple have a symbiotic relationship, and aren’t likely to push each other too far. 

We are following this story and its impacts on digital marketing closely. We will share more as things unfold.

SoMe is a digital marketing agency headquartered in Chicago. SoMe partners with clients in the pursuit of reaching their marketing and business goals through digital platforms. We combine digital expertise with innovative creative to get the right message to the right customer at the right time. Get in touch to see how we can help you with results driven digital marketing.


Everyone is Creative (With a Little Practice)

By: Chuck Lewis, Senior Creative at SoMe


A few years back, I stopped by a local gym for an introductory consultation. The idea for this first meeting was that we’d have a short discussion, I’d fill out a worksheet with my fitness goals, and the trainer would walk me through a few basic movements. I’d be in and out in 15 minutes. But, before we got started, it was time to stretch.

The necessity of stretching and ‘warming up’ for any type of physical activity seems obvious. It improves range of motion, functional efficiency, and prepares the body for the stress it’s about to undergo. So why don’t we ‘stretch’ before jumping head-first into other activities?

We’ve all been in meetings where we’re prompted to start throwing out ideas. The prompt is usually met with varied lengths of silence before someone on the team kickstarts the discussion – usually with a fairly obvious response. As more team members start to chime in, we’re able to generate a decent list. As the exercise winds down, ideas start to get a little wackier and most team members bow out before saying something that makes them look crazy. Everyone takes a step back to look at the list and one of the first (read as ‘safe’) ideas is chosen. And, of course, your best idea comes to you 10 minutes after you’ve left the meeting and are back at your desk.

The biggest problem with this all-too-familiar meeting format is that the team started to ‘exercise’ before providing enough time to ‘stretch.’ When the meeting kicks off, no one has loosened up enough to participate in a meaningful way. In the same way that we wouldn’t expect peak physical performance from an athlete who hadn’t warmed up, we shouldn’t expect great ideas to start flowing right away. So, we start with the obvious answer.

After this first idea, our hypothetical team starts to throw out more thoughts. Initial ideas are usually followed by approving nods or “I-was-just-gonna-say-that”s and the team starts to confuse consensus for success. At this point in the meeting, our team is just about finished getting loose when someone finally throws out a new idea.

There are a few ways that this idea will be received. In one scenario, this new idea really gets the rest of the team thinking. The energy in the room shifts and everyone locks in on fully formulating this new, best idea. The more likely scenario is that it’s met with the verbal equivalent of a participation trophy (“Okay, sure. What else?”). Whatever the case, if a new idea doesn’t recognizably point the team toward a linear path to solving the problem, it’s usually set aside. A clear ‘winner’ begins to emerge and, as the team spends more and more time discussing how to make that idea work, the introduction of a different idea can only be seen as disruptive (sometimes the team even acknowledges that a new idea is better, but sets it aside to avoid any sunken cost in focus!).

The flaw in this format is that without giving the team space to warm up without any stakes, it becomes really difficult to avoid focusing on one of our first answers. We tend to treat the brainstorming process like a funnel in which we start with a lot of ideas and then narrow them down until we’re left with our winner. Because of this, you can only move forward by eliminating ideas – a process that isn’t compatible with creative thinking. Instead of this, we should look at the creative process like a wine glass. In this way, we start with a handful of ideas and, as we move deeper into the exercise, generate more and more ideas as the team loosens up. Only after we’ve run out of new thoughts and different ways to connect what’s in front of us does it make sense to start editing these thoughts down to our final direction.

We’ll explore a handful of approaches to generating new ideas at greater depth in the future, but will walk through a few of them here. The most important thing to keep in mind is that the first step is about filling the page (or whiteboard) with as many thoughts and directions as possible. Doing so in a visible format, regardless of whether you’re brainstorming with a team or working through ideas on your own, is also a critical component for building new connections that would have otherwise gone unnoticed. Try not to take a single idea too far and DON’T FILTER IDEAS! An idea might not be great and might even get a few laughs from the team, but it’s important to leave it in. As we’ll see in some of the following approaches, we can use these ‘bad ideas’ to spark trains of thought that get us into uncharted creative terrain and worry about tying everything back together later.

Mind Mapping

In the late 1960s, Edward de Bono introduced the concept of lateral thinking – a tool meant to circumvent step-by-step thinking in order to produce more creative, original thinking. In order to get there, mind mapping is our biggest ally. You’ve probably seen some version of a mind map before – it’s the token stock photo for just about every article on brainstorming, but I’ve rarely been in a meeting where the team decided to use one. That said, I use them all the time when I’m kicking off a new creative project.

We start off with our main prompt (usually a brand name or story-hook in the creative world) in the middle of the page. Then, we spend some time coming up with 6 to 8 related ideas. These will feel pretty obvious at first, but it’s fun to try and squeeze at least one concept that’s a little out of left field. From this step, we do the same thing (come up with around 4 to 6 related ideas) for each concept, creating a visual web.

So, let’s say our client sells granola bars. Our obvious visual might be that all of the ingredients are swirling around as we list them out before they slam together to create our final product. But, what if we use our mind map exercise? We could start by listing a couple ingredients – oats, honey, almonds. Then we’ll add some adjectives the brand wants to be associated with – healthy, active, clean. We can keep working through the exercise until we come up with something completely new – maybe a colony of worker bees expertly assembles the granola bar ingredients, using their honey to glue everything together. At the end, they present the final bar to the discerning queen bee for a final taste test. It would have been a bit of a leap to get to that idea right away, but mapping out related concepts before looking for new connections helps to spark these new ideas.

Tips: I like to take most ideas at least three layers deep, but that can lead to a pretty messy mind map. There are plenty of tools online to help you build and organize your ideas without being cumbersome (I like MindNode for Mac). I also rarely get through these exercises without struggling for ideas toward the end, but that’s what we want. Some of the best, most ‘out-there’ ideas come from that final push for answers.

Separation (Go for a Walk)

There are plenty of times where the ideas just aren’t there. You start jotting down notes for your mind map and that creative spark you were hoping for isn’t coming. Or, you’re a half-hour into a project and it feels like every step you take is in the wrong direction. When you hit a wall, sometimes the most productive thing to do is get up and go for a walk.

What’s important here isn’t the act of walking, though there are a few reasons it’s my go-to. Our goal is to literally bring our problem to a different environment to find new ways of looking at it. In the mind mapping process, we’re trying to come up with ideas that are further and further removed from the initial prompt in order to establish new connections. Bringing the problem to a new environment can often accomplish something very similar, in that our brain is fed a lot of seemingly unrelated information while it’s hard at work processing a problem. Though this is a subconscious process (we’re not literally spotting a pigeon and scrambling to find ways to work it into our project scope), the change of scenery tends to inspire some fresh ideas and direction. This is one of the reasons why new ideas always seem to pop up after everyone’s left the meeting to head back to their desks.

Tips:  Try to avoid asking a co-worker to tag along or the temptation to listen to music while you walk. The goal is to be present and continue thinking through the idea when inspiration strikes, so we want to avoid tuning it out. I like downtown areas with a variety of storefronts and people going about their day. 

Get Uncomfortable

A huge, but generally unappreciated part of creative problem solving is practice and experience. We know that the best athletes in the world started with some level of athletic aptitude, but spent years and years getting to where they are (and hours a day staying there). It’d be bizarre if I woefully told you I could never be half as good at basketball as Michael Jordan and you knew I hadn’t touched a basketball in 10 years. I shouldn’t expect to be good at something I haven’t spent any time getting good at. With that being said, a lot of people treat creative thinking like something that’s divinely gifted to a select few during childhood and inaccessible for everyone else. The practice and experience components are actually far more important, but how do we get there?

I’m a huge proponent of learning new skills in order to practice creative thinking. And, it’s important that you get a little uncomfortable. Whether it’s an online course or picking up a new hobby, there’s a lot of value in learning to accept the idea that you don’t know what you’re doing… yet.

While quarantining, I’ve been practicing a couple of new skills and have undoubtedly failed a few times along the way. My grandfather’s family is originally from Denmark, so I’ve had it in the back of my mind that I’d like to learn Danish for a while. Each language has its own quirks, but the reason Danish is one of the hardest to learn is that things aren’t necessarily pronounced how they’re spelled or with the same vocal muscles as in English (YouTube “rødgrød med fløde” for reference). So, when on day one of eagerly diving headfirst into language learning I was face-to-face with a word I was physically unable to recreate, I was disheartened to say the least. I spent a lot of time over the next couple of weeks searching for exercises to get better at pronouncing the elusive Danish ‘soft D’ (it’s like the English ‘th’ sound but a little further back on the roof of the mouth) and am slowly getting there.

While I hope to learn something that passes as Danish, what I’m actually getting better at is learning how to creatively solve a problem in an environment where I expect myself to fail. We start in uncharted territory and have to learn how to navigate something completely alien to us. It’s all about teaching ourselves to build connections until things start to make sense. Suddenly other problems start to look familiar and it’s not intimidating that we don’t know how the problem’s going to get solved – we’ve practiced taking creative steps to solve problems.

Tips: There’s a lot of value in reading and consuming interesting podcasts to save up creative fodder, but try to pick something actionable in order to make this work best. We’re aiming to make ourselves a little uncomfortable here, so it shouldn’t be a passive experience.


Above all else, it’s important that we start looking at creativity as something that comes through practice and process instead of a trait someone has like brown hair or blue eyes. Everyone can contribute in a meaningful way to the creative problem solving process when enabled by their environment, but that means the time spent on creativity has to match the value we place in it. Encourage your team to generate ideas through additive means with a built-in ‘stretch’ like mind mapping before racing to come up with an answer. Get away from your desk for a bit to see how solutions develop with time and in new environments. And, practice solving problems by learning new skills and understanding that missteps are an unavoidable part of feeling your way through the dark. We are all as creative as the time we spend practicing creativity allows us to be. 


SoMe is a digital marketing agency headquartered in Chicago. SoMe partners with clients in the pursuit of reaching their marketing and business goals through digital platforms. We combine digital expertise with innovative creative to get the right message to the right customer at the right time. Get in touch to see how we can help you with results driven digital marketing.