There were some interesting developments and milestones reached in social media this week.
Facebook is expected to announce plans to change its large, single column news feed. This would be the first major change to the news feed design in seven years. Rumor has it Facebook will expand to multiple feeds and feature some sort of Instagram and Spotify integration. The new design could feature a feed for photo, music, and another feed featuring only news, videos and app sharing.
We’ll know more about this development tomorrow after Facebook’s big planned press event. Stay tuned for more information. One billion is the magic number this week.
LinkedIn reached one billion Endorsements this week.
The feature was launched in September 2012. Users can vouch for other user’s specific skills with only the click of a button. It was created to encourage more profile interaction and it’s accomplished that. However, it remains to be determined if these quick Endorsements have any positive impact on your digital professional presence. Personally, I’m not convinced a classmate vouching for your public speaking skills, without a formal recommendation, will result in your speedy employment.
Sesame Street’s latest video starring Count von Count, posted today, is titled “Counting the ‘You’s in YouTube.” One of the channel’s most popular videos, “Elmo’s Song,” has over 87 million views. YouTube is frequently banned in school environments, but this milestone makes a significant statement about YouTube’s educational possibilities.
Twitter announced it will discontinue its mobile apps, discontinue Facebook integration in May and focus more on its web-based version.
The Twitter-owned TweetDeck will be removed from app stores by early May and will stop functioning shortly after that. TweetDeck’s team say the decision reflects where the majority of their users are using their product. Recently, Twitter’s mobile app added major features including photo filters, revamped user profiles and an advanced search. TweetDeck’s features fill some users needs and if the mobile app isn’t cutting it, why not redesign for better functionality? Instead, Twitter’s content to forfeit those users who will either go to their Twitter app or one of their competitors. Tumblr mobile users will see ads soon.
Companies will be able to promote their posts to mobile app users within the next three months. The ads will mirror ones added to the website format months ago. Users and advertisers can promote content for as little as $1 a post.
Tumblr’s mobile users have quadrupled in the past six months and are closely approaching the amount of users on its website. Tumblr has a monthly audience of more than 170 million. With this new development, Tumblr hopes to turn its first annual profit in 2013.
Google+ launched a redesign of profiles and pages today in attempt to steal some of Facebook’s thunder. New feature include a “Local Reviews” tab, larger cover photos with a better aspect ratio and an easier way to edit information in the “About” tab. We’re expecting more features to be unveiled in coming weeks.
Stay tuned on this development. To summarize this week’s developments, social media continues its massive growth and platforms strive to stay relevant and exciting as they grow. What do you think about these developments? Do you think these redesigns are exciting or unneccessary?
While working on a client project together, we reached out to our great friends at S Design Inc., suggesting their team tackle the Wild West world of social media graphic sizing.
There are a few social media icon sizing guides floating around the web, but nothing really definitive, that we can pass along to clients and friends who want to make sure their Facebook cover looks perfect and their YouTube icon is legible.
So here they are, social media graphic sizing templates for Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+, Facebook, YouTube and Pinterest. Again, big thanks to S Design.
If you are interested in learning more about social media, branding and all aspects of marketing, considering joining S Design, Smirk New Media and other area experts at the M3: Marketing Minds Meet Conference, March 13 in Oklahoma City. Click here for more information and to register
Less than three weeks ago, Twitter launched its newest project titled “Vine” – a video sharing service that allows users to attach short, 6-second clips of video with sound to their tweets or post as a stand alone video on the Vine platform.
Many believe Twitter purchased Vine to try and compete with the popular Instagram app, which was sold to Facebook last year. Since the buyout, Instagram has been integrated into Facebook so pics can be easily posted to your page, but has conversely removed certain viewing capabilities on Twitter – causing many Twitter fans to look for alternative image sharing apps. Within 24 hours of the launch of Vine, it became the Number 1 app in Apple’s iTunes App Store under social sharing apps.
Vine is easy to use and no editing is required like more complicated video apps, however, Vine has some serious challenges ahead.
Yesterday, technology industry news site TechCrunch reported that Apple has changed the age rating on this new app to 17+ from its initial 12+ rating. Why the change, you ask? Porn.
Shortly after the launch of Vine, users began complaining about inappropriate clips being posted. Twitter and Vine quickly sprang into action and began censoring searches containing graphic terms, as well as the ability to block users. The issue became really problematic when human error promoted a Vine clip to an Editor’s Pick that contained hardcore porn.
So what have we learned from all of this? First, the change in rating to 17+ is appropriate. Until Vine can do some thorough vetting of its users and weed out most of the inappropriate content, it’s best not to let your 14 year old download the app. Second, pay attention to new apps. A couple of weeks ago, I wrote about an app called SnapChat that I felt parents should know about (read about it here). The more you know about these apps and what they are being used for, the better prepared you are as a parent.
Happy Fat Tuesday All,
Successful social media platforms have taught us complacency is digital death. I could name some names, but I probably don’t need to.
The most popular platforms are constantly evolving and striving to improve. These changes usually initiate users to verbalize growing pains, but that generally falls away and the redesigns become the norm. Most users don’t recognize this fact, but the redesigns keep people interested and help the platforms remain popular with users once newness fades.
Pinterest is the latest platform to attempt a redesign. Its new look attempts to improve upon the visual appeal that helped Pinterest become the fourth most popular social media platform in the world. The changes are subtle, but will hopefully improve the user browsing experience.
When selecting a pin today, a popup, quick view version of the pin appears in the middle of the screen. A small description, options to like or repin, the ability to comment and a small recap of the interactions the pin’s had appear.
In the resdesign, the visual pin is much larger. As you can see in the screenshot above, when viewing an individual pin you’ll be able to see the board the pin is posted to and thumbnails of other pins on that board. In the lower right hand corner of the screen, you’ll get thumbnails of other recommended pins from the user that originally posted the pin. The new pin is designed to encourage more exploration and effectively recommend things you might like to see by your viewing history.
Pinterest could take some cues from YouTube on supplying better recommendations to users. Ever get on YouTube to watch one video and look up from your screen hours later wondering where the time went? Pinterest is doing well in this area, but can always improve. By December 2012, the average Pinterest user spends an hour on the site. Twitter’s average user only spends 36 minutes and Facebook’s average time is only 12 minutes.
Pinterest upgraded their simple topic navigation at the top of the page. They’ve replaced that with a slider tab at the upper left of the page. You’re going to have the option to choose from the classic topics, pins from the people you follow and what’s popular on Pinterest.
Finally, Pinterest is looking to improve both their web and mobile interface. Their mobile app has been riddled with technical and functional issues since its inception. There is a huge disconnect between the web and mobile Pinterest experience as it is now. Designers are working on creating a seamless browsing experience on all mediums.
Pinterest released a new iPhone and iPad app update yesterday. Version 2.2 will enable you to edit and delete pins. Also, you’ll be able to delete pins on your Apple device.
At this point, all of these features are still in beta testing. Only a lucky few will experience these new features for the foreseeable feature. I hope to be one of these lucky few. Check back on the Smirk New Media blog for updates on any additional developments.
There are plenty of entries in the Big Book of People Who Have Underestimated Social Media (and the Internet) including entertainment executives, snarky marketers, defenders of traditional content creators, Joe Theismann, etc.
Added to the list recently was another casualty from the Oklahoma Legislature. The latest and greatest social media case study came with the debate HB1895, which would have eliminated the Oklahoma State Arts Council and its grants to arts events and organizations around the state.
When word got out about Rep. Josh Cockroft”s bill, the social media community jumped into action to smack it down.
Jonathan Fowler, the business leader who supports the arts and the Norman Music Festival, was pleased with how social media rallied behind the arts and how quickly the word spread.
Here”s what Fowler said in an email to Smirk New Media: “I was very impressed with the outcry on social media networks and how that translated into real action. I so often see photos for some “cause” where I am told to like or share something, and if I don’t then that clearly means I am the enemy of that cause. Those photos rack up thousands up on thousands of likes and shares and rarely translate to real action to benefit a human being. This was totally different.”
Fowler went on to say, “This went from outcry to action quicker than I ever expected. In addition to that this wasn’t just a liberal, or arts community driven effort. All over Oklahoma people from both sides of the political aisle and the business community came out in support of the Oklahoma Arts Council. It was a great example of the positive power of social media.”
The bipartisan support for the arts on social media used the #HB1895 in their discussions about the bill, and the Oklahoma Artist Coalition meeting featured #vocal4okarts. Next, a Facebook page Oklahomans Against HB1895 created another place for Oklahomans to organize and pledge their support to the arts online. The page facilitated a conversation on how the individuals think the arts positively impacts the state.
Kyle Golding, CEO of the Golding Group, a business consulting firm which supports and helps many non-profits, also spoke out for the arts. Golding followed (and spurred on) the conversation on both Twitter and Facebook.
“I started posting economic impact facts, linked to my blog post about arts and economics and the NEWS OK video about the arts conference,” Golding said. “After that, I posted the Economic Impact Report. Finally, when Rep. Cockroft stated in an interview he had received “1,000 emails, but only 4 were negative” I reposted that quote with his email address. That”s when his office started responding directly with a form email that was basically his blog post from the week before. That email was spread all over Facebook, showing how insincere he was in responding to citizens.”
Wrapping up the conversation is Jennifer James of Oklahomans For the Arts, which keeps an eye on such bills and defends against them.
Jennifer attributed this success to social media and the grassroots community as a whole.
“After a moratorium was placed on the Art in Public Places Program, Oklahoma”s art leaders led by Jim Tolbert, knew that we were facing a possible sea change with public funding for the arts,” Jennifer said. “These leaders created a new nonprofit to advocate for increased support of arts, culture and arts education in Oklahoma and they named it Oklahomans for the Arts. Our focus since that day has been primarily on public funding for the arts via the Oklahoma Arts Council.”
The Oklahoma Arts Council posted its own response to the legislation in a blog on January 23. The post explained that 85% of its funding comes from state appropriations. Also, 80% of the Arts Council budget goes directly to projects in communities all over the state through grants.
“With limited funds, and a part-time director, OFTA sought to advance arts advocacy almost exclusively through social networking,” Jennifer said. “We”ve been active on Facebook, Twitter and Blogger for nearly two years. Just two or three days before we learned of HB 1895, we reminded our friends on Facebook about the struggle Kansas has had since they lost their arts council two years ago. We even said, “This could happen here. We did not know then that the language for HB 1895 had been written in early January.”"
In 2011, Kansas became the first state in history to completely eliminate funding for the arts. That caused the state to also lose over $1 million in matching funds from the National Endowment of the Arts. After extreme public outcry, some funding has been restored, but its budget is less than half what it was in 2010.
“Our board believes grassroots advocates are the best people to advocate to lawmakers on behalf of the arts,” Jennifer said. “OFTA monitors legislation and serves as a resource of information. We push things out to our social networks, which includes a robust Mailchimp list. We plant seeds and then hope they germinate. That is what happened with HB 1895. Arts advocates owned this cause and it took on a life of its own. We don”t attempt to control advocates or what they do. Some created their own Facebook pages against the bill. Others initiated T-shirts and bumper stickers. Many wrote unique letters and spoke out with their own unique voices. This was truly a grassroots effort. OFTA”s job is to provide our networks with consistent, accurate information. Oklahoma”s arts advocates defeated HB 1895.”
By definition, marketing is the action or business of promoting and selling products or services. But many in executive management positions at small- to medium-sized companies find it difficult to grasp the concept that engaging in social media isn’t about pushing your product or service.
Traditional marketing as we once knew it revolved around a specific activity – say a direct mailer, television advertisement, pay-per-click ad or print piece – that explained what your product was, where to find it and how it was going to improve your life. Then, using mathematical equations, marketing directors would track if the activity generated a positive ROI (Return on Investment) or if the strategy was wrong and another marketing tasks needed to be implemented.
Social Media, on the other hand, is about connecting and sharing, not necessarily selling. In some ways, social media is really more akin to branding than marketing. Marketing genius Seth Godin defines a brand as “A set of expectations, memories, stories and relationships that, taken together, account for a consumer’s decision to choose one product or service over another.” If you think about social media for corporate use, it’s about making your product or service memorable. You want your product or service to become the talk of the town.
Let’s look at an excellent example of using social media to create a memory that is hard to forget.
I give to you: Moore Liquor. This small liquor store located in Moore, Oklahoma has decided to use social media for two unique purposes that do not in any way relate to trying to sell a bottle of Johnny Walker. Their first Facebook page (found here) is dedicated to making us laugh. About once a week, they post a new message on the marquee in front of the store to give patrons a good laugh and also post it on their Facebook page. A recent photo says “If you value fame more than your freedom, shoplift here.” posted on the marquee. This message itself might not seem hilarious, until you check out their other Facebook page (found here) and learn that recently thefts were becoming a big problem, so they began posting images (via their surveillance cameras) of people stealing alcohol from the store. The pictures are posted and there is a reward offered for anyone who is willing to message the store with the name (or names) of the individuals in the photos.
Their Facebook pages are so popular, with over 6,200 on one page and almost 2,700 on the other, that they have more likes than the popular Original Hideaway Pizza location that has been a campus favorite in Stillwater Oklahoma for more than 50 years.
Social media is about engagement and building a network of people who like similar things. If all you do is talk about the products you are selling- you’re doing it wrong and your social media success will be marginal at best. Determine what your target audience likes (and doesn’t like) and work that into your social media strategy. Make it fun. Make it interesting. But mostly, don’t make it all about you.
Design a policy on acceptable use of social media during work hours and open social media up company-wide. There’s untapped value in these tools and your team can benefit from using them to collaborate and to help in identifying potential customers. Social media has streamlined the hiring process and can do the same in a lot of different areas. Your sales team can use social media to generate leads and easily communicate with customers. Research and development teams can use it to brainstorm new ideas by seeing what is popular and what people are asking for. Design teams can derive inspiration for the next big idea from pins on Pinterest. The possibilities are endless for productive activity on social media.
According to comScore’s 2012 U.S. Digital Future in Focus, the time spent on webmail by 18-24 year olds decreased by 50% since 2010. Email is ceasing to be the only and best way to accomplish team tasks. Google made functionality strides when it converted traditional emails to long-running conversations in Gmail, but things are changing and Gen Y will operate differently than any other generation. More than 200,000 companies worldwide are using Yammer, a social site designed to streamline team collaboration. With both free and paid features, it operates similar to Facebook and Twitter, but exists only for company collaboration, file sharing and knowledge exchange. It’s a web-based and mobile capable platform to encourage productivity wherever your team is working from.
A big mistake businesses often make is allowing one person sole access to all the company’s social profiles. This is setting you up for disaster. I’m not saying you can’t designate one person to be in charge, but other staff members need to have access as well. If someone leaves the company, you could before forced to start over if you don’t have the account information and passwords. Also, if that individual is employed elsewhere, it could also lead to another company receiving your followers. In your social media policy, it should be clear the company owns social each social profile and can revoke an individual’s access at any time.
Especially if you work for a company with more than 10 employees, monitor what’s being said publicly about your company by potential customers and employees. Don’t be caught by a surprise social media scandal. Searching the different platforms occasionally for public mentions of your brand will help you stay ahead of negative attention.
More and more companies are having branded social media training programs created for their employees. Sprint employees complete a two-hour workshop called the Sprint Social Media Ninjas. After becoming certified ninjas, Sprint employees are continuously asked to contribute ideas for new ideas for the company’s social profiles. Doing nothing is not option. Blaming an employee for a social media regulation that didn’t exist, after an embarrassment, helps neither party. Designing programs specific to each business or organization is a Smirk specialty. Contact us for more information on social media company policies, monitoring or training your staff.
With the explosion of mobile technology over the last decade, specifically smartphones, parents are having a tough time keeping up with the latest trends. It’s no longer cool to use Facebook or even Twitter. Teens are moving to less known social media platforms such as Tumblr and Instagram to communicate with friends to avoid the prying eyes of their parents. But educating our kids about technology and how best to use it is a challenge when parents are unaware of the dangers.
As if the smartphones themselves aren’t temptation enough with their easy-to-use cameras and instant communication mechanisms, now software developers are encouraging behaviors like sexting with apps including Snapchat and Facebook Poke.
Snapchat and Facebook Poke are mobile apps which let users share images or videos that disappear after a few seconds. The sender can choose how long the message will be visible — up to 10 seconds — before it self-destructs (or so they say).
Here are some sobering stats from the site GuardChild.com:
- 20% of teens have sent or posted nude or semi-nude photos or videos of themselves
- 39% of teens have sent sexually suggestive messages via text, email or instant messaging
- 48% of teens say they have received sexually suggestive messages via text, email or instant messaging
Snapchat has taken the app world by storm. At the time of this post, Snapchat is the 15 most popular app in the iTunes app store, ahead of Pinterest, Instagram and Facebook. Teens and 20-somethings are downloading and using this app in record numbers.
Athough Snapchat claims naughty images will never come back to haunt users, people can still grab screenshots from their phones, even though both Snapchat and Facebook Poke notify the sender if the recipient snaps a screenshot. And these screenshots are being used to create Snapchat-themed Tumblr blogs featuring nude or semi-nude teens as well as a one completely dedicated to images of the male genitalia. Nice, huh?
So what can we as parents do to combat this? First, educate yourself. Your kids might think their videos and pics are deleted forever, but inform them that Zach Epstien with BGR.com has detailed a way to retrieve the deleted videos your kid receive. And the photos that vanish after 10 seconds? Nope, those are retrievable too. (TechCrunch wrote steps on how to do that here: retrieve Snapchat pics) The more YOU know, the less your kids can get away with. This includes keeping up with apps like these.
Second, communicate. Some of us at Smirk New Media are parents ourselves, and we want to keep our kids (and yours) safe as well as educate them about digital media. Our kids are exposed to more technology in their pocket than was used in the first Apollo rocket. The key is to set boundaries and talk to your kids. Explain that the “private” video your kid shot of her backside in a thong is not only unacceptable, it could also be viewed by authorities as child porn depending on who it was sent to. If you’re the recipient of those images (even if you THINK they are deleted), you could also get you in trouble with the law.
Lastly, consider using one iCloud account for app purchases, with a password that only you know. This can prevent teens from downloading such ridiculous apps like Snapchat or Facebook poke all together.
What are your thoughts on these apps? Are you familiar with them? We’re here to help.
My thoughts on Manti Te’o case: