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The Month in Digital: January 2018

My monthly round up of news in digital skills, digital inclusion and other interesting online things! January was a busy month with a lot of changes on social media in particular.

Facebook focuses on “well-being”

Mark Zuckerberg took to Facebook in early January to share his thoughts on future changes to the platform, writing: “The research shows that when we use social media to connect with people we care about, it can be good for our well-being. We can feel more connected and less lonely, and that correlates with long term measures of happiness and health.”

Facebook are focusing future feed changes on helping users to have “more meaningful social interactions” – even at the expense of business posts and overall time spent on the platform. It will be interesting to see how this pans out in the year ahead for users, advertisers and small business pages…

Google & Facebook both announce new European digital skills hubs

Google announced 4 new “Les Ateliers Numériques Google” in France, piloting in Rennes, Brittany in the first half of 2018. The hubs will offer free training in online skills and digital literacy for individuals and businesses (sound familiar?). Bonjour to Digital Garage’s new French counterparts!

Facebook is due to open “community skills hubs” in Italy, Spain & Poland, with the aim of training one million people and business owners by 2020. Read more

The European Commission issues its “Digital Education Action Plan”

“While 90% of future jobs require digital literacy, 44% of Europeans lack basic digital skills.” The EU announced a new “Digital Education Action Plan” on 17th January to tackle this issue. It’s all about:
  • Digital transformation & readiness in schools
  • Building essential competencies in digital/tech
  • Lifelong learning & preparing the workforce of the future

Read more here | An overview

Instagram (finally!) adds post scheduling to its API…

Instagram has been on a roll! After announcing the ability to follow hashtags and archive/highlight Stories (both December), they announced a host of new API features including – wait for it – SCHEDULED POSTS! While not available in-app, social scheduling tools such as Hootsuite, Buffer and Sprout Social will now be able to offer proper post scheduling, with none of the scheduled push notifications social media managers are used to. Alas, at the moment this is only available for business profiles, with Instagram saying support for non-business profiles is on the books for early 2019. Sigh.

…but their “Last Online” feature isn’t so popular

The “last online” Instagram feature, also announced in January, was not quite as well received. Similar to features on its sister apps Facebook Messenger and Whatsapp, this shows anyone you are messaging on Instagram when you were last online. Unfortunately they decided to turn this on by default, and without notifying users. Guides immediately popped up across social media platforms alerting Instagram users to the change and telling them how to turn it off.

YouTube makes changes to monetisation thresholds

YouTube announced changes to the threshold for joining their partner programme, which affects which channels can opt in to monetisation through advertising shown on their videos.

Previously a partner channel just needed 10000 total views. Now, YouTube requires over 1000 subscribers, and 4000 hours of your videos watched in the last 12 months. The criteria apply immediately to new joiners, and will roll out to existing partners on 20th February, with channel owners receiving an email mid-January warning of the upcoming changes.  Read more here

Google rolls out new, improved Search Console

The new Search Console includes 16 months of search data, improved information on index coverage, action points for improving your AMPs (accelerated mobile pages) and let’s be honest, a much cleaner and more intuitive interface (sorry old Search Console, I did love you too).

It’s still rolling out, as of 31st January I’ve only got the new Search Console for one of the 5 websites in my account. And that one doesn’t have all the features yet…

Read more here

#DigitalSalford launches in MediaCityUK

In local news, the launch of #DigitalSalford took place at The Landing in MediaCityUK. Mayors of Salford (Paul Dennett) and Greater Manchester (Andy Burnham) joined partners from Good Things Foundation, TalkTalk, Barclays and more to announce the beginning of a digital inclusion initiative for Salford.

The three schemes launched at the event were MyCity Salford, #DigitalYou and MyCity Health. Attendees were asked to pledge their support for the campaign, and heard from a community panel who shared their experiences of digital in their everyday lives. Read my summary of the event

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