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What Ariana Grande Is Doing That Your Brand Isn’t

What Ariana Grande Is Doing That Your Brand Isn’t

Sometimes it just doesn’t seem fair. Celebrities seem to have it all – fame, money, talent, and enviable social media power.

Many celebrities have amassed a gigantic and engaged social media following that builds their voice, excites their fans and strengthens their overall brand. Fortunately, you don’t have to include being a platinum recording artist or award-winning actor to learn from their actions. In fact, many of the elements that have helped today’s coolest celebrities to secure strong social followings are ideas that any brand can tap into as well. These three women – Ariana Grande, Taylor Swift, and Nicole Richie – showcase some of the steps any entity can take for a more compelling social presence.

Ariana Grande

Ariana Grande Twitter

Yes, many of Ariana Grande’s social media posts come from concert rehearsals or promotional events. But interspersed with those missives are the type of posts you’d expect from a 21-year-old who loves to tweet. She chats with her friends and gushes about her boyfriend. She snaps lots of selfies and frequent photos of her dog. Most evenings she wishes her fans good night.

On Twitter and Instagram, Grande seems to be unfettered by a PR team or concerns about image. Her tweets are informal, and based on her spelling choices are not being vetted by a team. She does sometimes share updates from her promotional efforts, but they still have the feel of being just another day at work rather than a calculated marketing plan. This gives extra value to her interactions with fans, since they read like genuine messages from an individual, rather than the canned responses a brand sometimes has to make.

Brand Takeaway:  Misspellings and random grammar probably won’t work for your brand, but providing your audience with an authentic, behind-the-scenes look at your brand can showcase that you’re human (and even fun). Incorporating a personal touch to the routine interactions can help create a better sense of community and build loyalty.

Taylor Swift

During the 2014 holiday season, pop singer Taylor Swift took an opportunity to give early Christmas presents to some of her Tumblr superfans. Swift picked out 32 people on the blog network who expressed a deep appreciation for her work and sent them generous boxes of presents, complete with handwritten and personal notes about the various items. The giddy fans shared photos and videos of their surprise presents on social, dubbing it “Swiftmas.”

Brand Takeaway: Swiftmas is a great example of how to give recognition to the most loyal fans. Brands frequently pay lip service to community-building, but their moves in that area often seem half-hearted. Taylor Swift dove headfirst into an effort to sincerely thank the people who have felt the strongest connection with her, both as a person and as a musician, and have actively worked to be informal brand ambassadors for the singer. Gifts are an act of generosity, and the unexpectedness of having a personal interaction with somebody they admire helped make Swiftmas a huge social sensation.

Nicole Richie

Nicole Ritchie Instagram

Many of the popular photo networks have an aspirational quality. People share their best side and present the image that they want others to have of their life. That element of exhibitionism could explain why Nicole Richie, a reality television personality and fashion influencer, has been so successful with Instagram.

Richie has used her social photos to show snaps from her day to day celebrity life while still reflecting her own quirky personality. Some of the photos are casual shots of her family, but many also promote her latest projects and appearances. Her fashion choices are edgy – not everyone can pull off blue hair – so even when it might be an ad, it’s hard to not want to see what she’ll be wearing or doing next. Her Instagram feed reflects a unique style sensibility and a sense of goofy fun that has secured her many devoted fans.

Brand Takeaway: The big lesson here is that it’s okay to be different. If your brand has a hard-rocking edge, then put that on display. If your business is a little weird, show that off to the fullest extent. Personality and a distinct outlook stand out on social just as they do in person. The key is to make your style presentation sincere. Just as the teenagers trying too hard to be cool will automatically fail, forcing a personality that’s not natural to your brand will most likely alienate or confuse your followers.

The post What Ariana Grande Is Doing That Your Brand Isn’t appeared first on Sprout Social.

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Using Your Social Audience as a Focus Group 

Using Your Social Audience as a Focus Group 

Often, social media is the domain of our marketing or customer service departments (or both). But while social is an essential tool for these purposes, the data and insights gleaned from social networking can have a big impact on your businesses’ actual product or service. The key? Asking for and listening to customer feedback, which can be used to inform your product decisions. In doing so, you not only gain useful feedback, but your customers also feel you’re listening to their concerns — a win/win situation for any business.

You’re probably already using social listening as part of your strategy to identify what’s being said about your company and address problems before they have a chance to become viral sensations. So why not use these same tools to compile feedback that could inform your business as a whole?

One of the biggest success stories for this kind of social listening is Domino’s Pizza, which has used the wide reach of social feedback to collect customer reports on its food quality, which the business then used to improve its offerings. “Social media was a big arena for us to get a lot of that feedback,” Chris Brandon, the company’s director of communications, explained in an interview with DBusiness. “It wasn’t just classic research methods, like focus groups and surveys and those things. It was actually getting out there and hearing from people.”

By listening to customers on social channels through its Pizza Turnaround campaign, Domino’s did turn the business around, with stock prices up over 700 percent since 2010, with big growth in both sales and stores. While we can’t promise that all social feedback will produce such dramatic business results, taking the time to listen to your customers on social channels and cultivating a successful social test group can have big business impact.

Can Social Media Replace Focus Groups?

When it comes to collecting customer options, social media has some advantages and some disadvantages over a more traditional focus group environment. Social media is fast, allowing you to collect immediate feedback on anything you want, and, depending on your social following, the number of responses is likely to beat out a traditional focus group or survey.

However, you have to remember to take socially collected data with a grain of salt. Depending on the network you’re on, it can be tough to tell who you’re talking to, making it difficult or even impossible to try to collect a random sample of participants or gauge the opinions of specific demographic groups. Further, the nature of social interactions means you’re probably getting a fast answer to a single question rather than an in-depth response. Quick feedback might be poorly thought-out, be unclear, not address the question you were trying to ask, or simply reflect a follower who was in a bad mood when they saw the question in the first place.

Despite these potential downfalls, businesses are definitely making good use of this kind of social insight, some of them on a big scale. Take a look at Lay’s, which is currently running a “Do Us A Flavor” contest where social followers are asked to submit chip flavors, which everyone can vote on. Even though the company is giving out a big cash prize, it may be a small price tag for that much consumer-approved research and development.

Asking the Right Questions

You can — and you should! — gather data about what social media users think of your company and your products simply through social listening. However, to gather data about a specific subject, you’ll want to ask questions. The way you pose those questions can have a big impact on the responses you gather or even lead people to answer a certain way or another.

Because your data is only as good as the questions you ask, you’ll want to take time to ensure you’re asking the right ones. Make sure your questions are clear to avoid any possible confusion. You may also want to avoid yes/no questions, as they encourage a simple response without digging into how or why your followers feel that way. It may help to test your questions on people in the office, or even asking what kind of social feedback they’d be interested in hearing, to make sure you’re asking just the right questions before you send them out to all of your social followers.

As to where to ask these questions, we suggest using the network where you have the largest active follower count. While different social networks do reflect different demographics which could influence your results, asking on the network (or networks) where you have the most active fan-base is likely to get you the most responses. Depending on the questions you’re asking, you may find that singling out key social followers or influencers to ask questions of can help you get better answers or more in-depth feedback.

If your initial effort hasn’t produced the responses or number of responses you hoped for, don’t be shy about revisiting the subject or asking follow-up questions. Though you won’t want to saturate your social feed with this kind of content, a rephrased question, a question posted at a different time of day, or a question with an eye-catching visual attached can garner more responses. Though the company is asking a silly question, you can see how Oreo makes use of compelling visuals to encourage responses.

Your followers are likely to appreciate their opinion being asked, especially if it’s taken seriously by your business. To that end, be sure to keep your followers up to date on what comes of their feedback. If you’re still struggling to get responses, offering some kind of incentive for participation, even if it’s a small one, can also encourage your followers to stop and leave a comment instead of just scrolling by.

Turning Data into Decisions

Soliciting for information is only the first step: once you have the customer feedback you wanted, you have to make sense of it and decide what to do about it. Tools and software can help you compile the responses to questions as well as gauge the overall sentiment on a subject, but you’ll also want to look through responses for notable comments. Comments that add particular insight to the conversation are worth highlighting for decision-makers, who are likely to find the feedback interesting even if they don’t have time to comb through all of the responses themselves.

If you’re asking questions to inform your social strategy, it’s easy integrate feedback into your social plan whether it’s on your own or in consultation with a larger social media team. However, if the feedback you’ve collected doesn’t relate to your department, you may find yourself needing to sell the value of this social feedback to colleagues with less social expertise. If you need to win someone on the team over, it will likely be easier if you start with a question or issue you know they want further information on or enlist them to weigh in on the questions you pose. Asking questions about low-impact issues can also help prove the worth of this feedback by limiting the risk involved by listening.

Whatever the case, taking the time to make the data easy to parse, even for individuals without a social media background, and highlighting specific, actionable feedback can make it easier for staff in other departments to understand the value of social insight.

The post Using Your Social Audience as a Focus Group  appeared first on Sprout Social.

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Design Trends of 2015: How Your Blog Can Adapt

This is a guest contribution from Owen Andrew.

Since mobile internet began to overtake desktop internet usage in January 2014, there have been major innovations in website design in light of this trend. In general, websites have been opting for a simpler, mobile-friendly design. Maintaining a blog in such a fast-paced environment can be a huge challenge, but staying on top of trends is required for success. In order to keep your blog interesting and relevant in the upcoming year, there are five design trends to keep in mind when continuing your work in 2015.

Image via

Emphasis on Mobile

With so many people turning to their mobile devices when going online, it’s no wonder that many blogs have begun creating content that is easy viewable on smaller screens. While mobile used to be a consideration, for web-savvy designers, mobile is now the focus. If a site doesn’t work on mobile, you are now neglecting what is likely the majority of your audience, so start any web design process by focusing on mobile, and adapt that design to work on a desktop screen, rather than vice versa.

 Focus on Typography

Thanks to Google Fonts, a free package of various typefaces, and a recent decrease in typography package prices, there has been renewed interest in creating a unique look through higher-end typography. Typography is not only useful for creating a more beautiful, unified look for your blog or website, it can also have a large impact on the readability of your text– especially on mobile platforms. For example, fonts such as Verdana and Georgia have been shown to have the best readability on screens. Small touches such as typography can lend a lot to a site, and help it stand out among the competition.

 Minimalist Design

Because of the new emphasis on mobile, the web design landscape is expected to be much more minimalist than in previous years. The emphasis on flat designs and stripped-down icons will be more present in 2015. Apple, Microsoft, and Google have all embraced two-dimensional buttons and icons recently, and other websites are beginning to follow suit.

 Large Background Photos

A major web design trend in the upcoming year, large background photos have become popular because of their ability to fill in an otherwise sparse, minimalist site. This trend has been facilitated by an increase in bandwidth across the globe, and allows for scrolling sites filled with large pictures and lots of information. Using large background pictures is great for home pages, and when used with flat-design buttons lends any website or blog an expansive, elegant appearance.

 Expandable Menus

To accommodate the simpler look that is currently prominent in website design, bloggers and blog sites have started utilizing expandable menus in order to keep the blog decluttered and clean-looking. These expandable menus are often integrated with flat designs that use intuitive, minimalist icons rather than three-dimensional ones. These expandable menus are especially well suited for mobile, where they can stay out of the way of the text and media.

Blogging, especially for a living, is an extremely competitive field. Keeping up-to-date on current trends in design will enhance your content by supporting it with a cleaner, more modern look. The internet is estimated to contain more than 152 million blogs! Staying ahead of the curve on advances in technology and design will help your blog keep ahead of the pack.

Owen Andrew is a tech journalist and Apple enthusiast. When he’s not writing or drooling over the latest Apple announcement, he’s usually hanging with his kids and doing family activities. Feel free to give him a shout on G+ or Facebook.

Originally at: Blog Tips at ProBlogger
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Design Trends of 2015: How Your Blog Can Adapt

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9 Copywriting Rules To Create Hypnotic Posts Your Readers Will Love

Image via Flickr user Daniel Lee

This is a guest contribution from Hassan Ud-deen.

Your blog posts have a purpose, right?

You want your readers to take a specific action after reading your post. It could be to: like, share, subscribe, comment or just think about something. Either way, you’re aiming to elicit a response.

And It doesn’t matter if you’re writing a sale letter, a blog post, or an email.

If you aim to evoke any kind of response or action… you’re writing copy.

Funnily enough, most of the content marketing style writing you read now, is heavily influenced by copywriting principles that marketers (who violently squeezed the power out of every word to make their copy super effective or go to bed hungry,) used to sell to complete strangers.

So let’s revisit the raw “old school” copywriting roots of blogging/content marketing and discover the powerful principles used to make millions from the written word, and how they apply to writing popular posts today.


1 Put On Your “Blog Detective” Hat

In the marketing world, a hook is the one story, idea or feature that races out the screen and locks the reader’s attention in its jaws.

Copywriters would dig through sales literature, interview previous customers, and brush up on the history of a product. All in search for the one undiscovered piece of information that made a reader’s eyes jump out of their sockets.

Legendary copywriter John Carlton calls this putting on your “sales detective” hat and getting into a “Bogart-like” gumshoe frame of mind.

The same principle can be used to craft irresistible posts that spread like wildfire.

Jon Morrow is a perfect example of this. The only difference being that he wore a “blog detective” hat instead of a sales one.

Before his posts went viral on Copyblogger, he noted the number of comments on almost every post, analyzed the type of comments being made, and studied the social media statistics for years.

Jon’s thorough detective work allowed him to develop a deep understanding of the heart-warming dreams, worrying problems and crippling fears of the Copyblogger audience, resulting in posts that exploded with comments and shares.

If you want to write posts that go viral, put on your blog detective hat and study popular posts, dig through comments, analyze them, and look out for patterns.

You’ll find exactly what your audience wants to know, and be able to deliver hot content that they will love.


2 One Thing Successful Copy and Winning Posts Have in common

Highly converting copy and popular posts have one crucial element in common…

A magnetic, benefit-driven headline.

According to David Ogilvy: “On the average, five times as many people read the headlines as the body copy. When you have written your headline, you have spent 80 cents out of your dollar.”

That means if you’re headline isn’t up to scratch, your product isn’t going to sell, and you’re going to be bleeding money.

If you’re a blogger, your audience won’t be sold on why they should click on your links and your your post aren’t going to be read.

Take a look at the popular post section to the right here on ProBlogger.

My favourites are:

The Ultimate Guide to Making Money with the Amazon Affiliate Program

7 Strategies for Growing Community on Your Blog

Can You REALLY Make Money Blogging? [7 Things I Know About Making Money from Blogging]

Notice Something here?

They all promise an irresistible benefit to the reader.

We could spend hours discussing the anatomy of popular headlines, but there are two must- haves for injecting a hefty amount of stopping power into any headline.

  • Promising a mouth-watering benefit to the reader
  • Arousing the readers burning curiosity

If your headline does the two things above, that’s a good sign.

Looking for more ways to power up your headlines? Jon Morrow’s 52 Headline Hacks report is an indispensable guide


3 Strong Copy and Seductive Blog Posts Adhere To The Same Formula

Ever heard of the AIDA formula? It’s a known formula for writing sales pages, but it can also be used to quickly create high-power blog posts.

A- Attention. This is your headline and your opening sentence, where you’re looking to snag your prospects attention and quickly show that what you’re selling is beneficial to them.

If you’re a blogger, the only difference is that your readers aren’t paying you with cash.  They’re paying you with their time and attention, and you’re selling them on how reading your content will benefit them.

I-Interest. This is where you’ll pique the interest of your prospects. Nudging them further down your copy by weaving a relatable story or describing a painful problem that your product solves.

In your posts, this is where you’d seduce readers further down the page by sharing a story or arousing their curiosity and emotions.

D-Desire. Here’s where blogging and copywriting have a slight split.

In a sales page, this would be where you describe the benefits of your product and get your reader warm and runny over what you’re selling.

In your posts, this is where you deliver your content.

A-Action. After being swept off their feet by all the amazing benefits of your product, this is where you invite your prospect to take some kind of action. Usually to make an order, cut out a coupon or fill in a form.

As a blogger, after your readers are charged up and inspired by the content you’ve delivered. This is where you invite them to take action by commenting, subscribing or clicking on a link.

Blog posts and sales pages both have the same goal: To get the reader to take action, and that’s what the AIDA formula is designed to do.

So the next time you find yourself gazing at the ceiling with a blank page on your screen. Give the AIDA formula a try.


4 Long Post vs. Short Posts?

What’s more effective, long posts or short posts, long copy or short copy?

Joseph Sugarman answers the question perfectly: “Copy is never too long if the readers takes the action that you request. Therefore, it can’t be dull, it must be compelling, it must relate to the readers and, finally, it’s got to be about something the reader is interested in.”

This means that as long as you’re providing value to your readers, keeping them engaged, and relating to them… the length of your post is almost irrelevant.


5 Adopt the Gun to The Head Writing Philosophy

When John Carlton started his copywriting career, he had no source of income, savings for only one more month’s rent, and last a tank of gas in his battered car. (Not a nice place to be right?)

But instead of feeling panicked by his situation, he describes feeling eerily calm.


Because he had to create successful ads, or starve.

To do this, he treated each ad as if it was a life or death matter. Like their was a cold nozzle of a loaded gun pressed into to his head while he wrote.

So, how does one write when they have no choice but to create something that moves people to act?

  • You don’t take risks.

You rely on proven methods that you know will work. In the world of copywriting this means using proven structures, headlines and devices. Relate this to blogging, and it means using proven headlines, blog post types and topics to create hard hitting posts.


  • You be as clear as possible.

If your reader loses interest, you lose the sale. Similarly, if your post is boring; you’ve just lost a reader. Use simple language and aim to be as clear as possible.


  • You always provide a juicy benefit to the reader

In a sales letter, you communicate the benefit your readers will gain from your product.  In a blog post you communicate how your content will enrich their lives.

What can they expect to gain from your continuing to read your content?  Be sure to let your reader know or risk losing him.

Give yourself no option but to write stellar content, and you will.


6 The Most Powerful Word in Your Writing Arsenal

Is the word “You.”

Your readers doesn’t care about what you want. What your interests are, or what you like. However they care, very deeply, about what they want, like and find interesting.

Constantly relate everything back to your readers by use the word “you” generously in your writing. It’s about your reader, not about you.


7 Shock Your Readers Into Paying Attention

Another lesser-known copywriting trick used to craft hypnotic sales letters is to anticipate and answer objections before your reader can voice them.

Read any good sales letter, and you’ll notice every time the reader can ask a question, it’s answered immediately. This helps the copy flow and extinguishes any stress the reader may have.

You can do something equally powerful when writing your blog posts too.

In their book “Made to stick”, Chip and Dan Heath discovered that we all have a little guessing machine running inside our heads. It’s constantly trying to guess what’s going to happen next.

And as long as everything goes according to plan, people stay a little bored and disinterested.

A powerful way to snap people out their guessing trance, is to break their guessing machine by knowing what they expect you to say, and deliberately going against it.

So instead of anticipating objections for a product, anticipate what your readers expect to hear and say the opposite (or something they’re not used to hearing).

Take for example this post here by Carol Tice.

Carol predicts what the reader is thinking, and says the complete opposite. She simultaneously educates and shocks the reader. Instantly jolting their guessing machine and forcing them to pay attention.

If you want your posts to snap your readers into attention, attack their guessing machines with something unexpected. It could be unique advice, a controversial view or something that no-one else talks about.


8 Use Stories To Bond With Readers

Humans are not ideally set up to understand logic. They are ideally set up to understand stories- Roger C. Shank.

Stories stir feelings and charge you with emotion. Sometimes making you burst with excitement or flooding your world with sadness. Thanks to their extreme power,  they are a popular tool amongst copywriters.

A recent experiment by journalist Rob Walker set out to test the power of stories and how they can add value to almost anything.

Rob hired a group of writers to create emotionally provocative stories about unwanted, cheap thrift store items.

He then placed the items on ebay with the story in the description.

The results?

They sold $128.74 worth of abandoned thrift items for over $3000 dollars. An overall value increase of over 2,700%.

By using stories in your blog posts, you arouse your readers emotions and create sympathy and make yourself more relatable. You’ll also be able to cement ideas and information into readers brains with much more strength and clarity.


9 Electrocute Your Readers With Emotion

There’s a reason why sales letters describe painful problems, amazing dreams, and heart breaking stories to readers before mentioning their products.


Copywriters rub salt into readers wounds and paint pleasing pictures to charge people with emotion. They know the only way to get anyone to act and to pay attention, is to get their hearts to beat a little faster. To raise their body temperature up a notch. To make them salivate with desire. To make them feel.

In a special report by Jonah Berger and Katy L. Milkman called “what makes online content go viral” one of the biggest revelations was that content that evokes powerful emotions is more viral than content that doesn’t.

This makes sense. For people to take act, they have to feel.

So for people to actively share and promote your content, they have to be exploding with so much inspiration, ambition or hope that they can’t help but spread your message.

While there are a ton of ways to inject more raw emotional power into your writing, the best way is to charge yourself up with the emotions you want readers to absorb.

Get flush with anger. Get extremely hyper. Get insanely happy. Then, discharge your energy into your writing.


One Final Thing

All the tips in this post can do wonders when it comes to creating popular posts.

But, if there’s one thing that could render all the above tips combined utterly useless.

It’s value.

If what you’re write doesn’t bring value to your audiences lives in any way, no tip will ever help you create posts that readers bookmark and share.

How do you come up with killer content for your readers? Please tell me in the comments below!

Hassan Ud-deen is a freelance blogger and email copywriter who helps businesses use content to grow. You can find out more about him on his blog or if you need help with your blog posts or copy, shoot him an email or connect with him on Facebook.

Originally at: Blog Tips at ProBlogger
Build a Better Blog in 31 Days

9 Copywriting Rules To Create Hypnotic Posts Your Readers Will Love

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Google Now Supports Crawling & Indexing Locale-Adaptive Web Pages

Google adds support for web pages that dynamically change their content based on IP origin or language settings.

The post Google Now Supports Crawling & Indexing Locale-Adaptive Web Pages appeared first on Search Engine Land.

Please visit Search Engine Land for the full article.

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7 Essential Quality Metrics For Evaluating Publishers For Guest Blogging

Guest blogging may not be a great link building strategy anymore, but columnist Jayson DeMers reminds us that it’s still a valuable tactic.

The post 7 Essential Quality Metrics For Evaluating Publishers For Guest Blogging appeared first on Search Engine Land.

Please visit Search Engine Land for the full article.

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3 Steps To Optimizing Local Paid Search

Columnist Benjamin Vigneron explains how to localize your messaging and optimize your budget across your best performing locations in Google Enhanced Campaigns.

The post 3 Steps To Optimizing Local Paid Search appeared first on Search Engine Land.

Please visit Search Engine Land for the full article.

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Adobe Muse CC 2014 | Search Engine Optimization | Muse For You

Join Bluehost now and get a FREE domain name! Bluehost – Bluehost is one of the largest and most truste…

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Facebook Marketing and Social Media Marketing Strategy for Small Businesses

In this 60 minute video, Vincent Cheng, the Principal Consultant and Trainer from JeVince Solutions, speaks about the Social and Human Side of Social media a…

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How Facebook Sped Up Photo Loading in iOS App, News Feed for Android

Facebook users and engineers always feel the need — the need for speed — and the social network detailed how it fulfilled that need for photos on its iOS application and News Feed in its Android app in separate blog posts.

Facebook adopted a technique known as progressive JPEG to speed up photo loading in its iOS app, describing the process in a post on its engineering blog as an image format that stores multiple, individual \”scans\” of a photo, each with an increasing level of detail.

As for News Feed in its Android app, another engineering blog post details how the social network handles the extremely complex ListView behind the process.

Highlights of the post on PJPEG follow:

Our team took a look at how we can make photos faster on iOS and we found a way to reduce the data used by Facebook for iOS by about 10 percent and show a good image 15 percent faster than before.

Progressive JPEG (PJPEG) is an image format that stores multiple, individual \”scans\” of a photo, each with an increasing level of detail. When put together, the scans create a full-quality image. The first scan gives a very low-quality representation of the image, and each following scan further increases the level of detail and quality. When images are downloaded using PJPEG, we can render the image as soon as we have the first scan. As later scans come through, we update the image and re-render it at higher and higher quality.

Rendering images progressively in the Facebook app has some advantages:

  • Data consumption: PJPEG allows us to skip downloading smaller versions of an image.
  • Network connections: Since we don’t download smaller versions of an image anymore, we now use only one connection per image instead of many.
  • Disk storage: Storing fewer photos on disk decreases the amount of disk space used by the app.
  • One URL: Since we no longer need to download multiple images at different sizes, we can simply use one URL.

There is a downside to PJPEG: Decoding and rendering the image multiple times at varying scan levels uses more CPU (central processing unit). Decoding images can be moved to background threads, but the process is still heavy on CPU. The real challenge for us was to find the right balance between data usage, network latency and CPU utilization. For instance, we considered using WebP, since it is more optimal in file size than JPEG in some cases, but the format does not support progressive rendering.

We render three different scans of each photo:

  • First we render a preview scan: This is pixelated.
  • Then we render a scan that looks good to the naked eye. In fact, it looks almost perfect to the naked eye.
  • Finally we render at full-quality: the best resolution possible.

The result is that people see a good photo sooner!


And here are highlights of the post on rendering the News Feed in Android:

If you work on an Android app (or any touch-screen-based app, actually), there’s a very good chance you have at least one activity based on a ListView. In many cases, it may be the screen of your app where users interact with the app the most. In the case of Facebook for Android, this ListView is your News Feed. Keeping News Feed working well in Facebook’s Android app presents a variety of engineering challenges, starting with performance considerations for touchscreens.

Facebook’s News Feed, a popular screen in the Facebook for Android app, is an extreme example of a complicated ListView. This makes delivering a smooth scrolling experience especially hard.

First, each story you see in the feed is pretty tall, and contains several pieces of text and photos. This makes the challenge of binding all of the story’s data without skipping frames significantly harder.

Secondly, there are multiple variations of stories in your feed. Aside from a simple story containing some text and a photo, you can see multiple variations of attachments: a preview for a link, an album, a video, etc. The story might be shared, in which case the story contains another story inside it. Hardest of all, we need to render aggregated stories, which means one story can actually be composed of several stories that are related. A good example of this is when many of your friends wish you a happy birthday. These aggregated stories are the most challenging to render, as one of them can easily be twice as tall as the screen of the device.

As an extra challenge, the typical Android phone is not a high-end device. So the amount of computations you can fit in under 16.7 milliseconds is likely less than the amount on the majority of phones you develop on.

About a year ago, we felt it was the time to invest in a new architecture for our rendering code for News Feed. We knew we wanted to avoid the pitfalls of the previous design and try to get rid of our more fragile code. For that purpose we considered a new idea: Splitting each story in the News Feed to several items in the ListView. Using this idea, the header part of a story will be its own item in the ListView. This nice trick results in various advantages right away. First, this makes Android’s recycling effective again. If before, two custom views for a story were too different to have one recycled into the other, now, recycling is happening on a sub-story level.

The other idea we incorporated to the design is decoupling the binding logic from the custom views themselves. For this purpose, we basically split our previous custom view into two classes: a simpler \”dumb\” custom view, and a Binder class.

This rewrite effort has resulted in many benefits:

  • The number of out-of-memory errors experienced by people using Facebook has been reduced by 17 percent, and the number of total errors was reduced by 8 percent. Some errors, such as stack overflows in the view hierarchy, have disappeared.
  • The maximum time it takes to render a frame was reduced by 10 percent, after additional optimizations and removal of custom recycling code that was no longer needed. Additional simplifications are expected to improve by such amounts once more. Big jumps that resulted from loading a tall complicated story have disappeared.
  • We were able to simplify reusing our feed code with different layouts, which helped in the creation of the stand-alone app for Facebook Groups on Android.
  • The new design has lent itself to improving our code quality. More teams can contribute to News Feed while being sandboxed from other teams working on parallel features. We also used this opportunity to make sure our code is testable and well covered. The new feed code has a line coverage with unit tests of 70 percent, compared with 17 percent in the old code.


Readers: Have you noticed any performance differences in your Facebook iOS or Android apps?

Speed image courtesy of Shutterstock.

Reblogged 4 years ago from