Category: life

12 Feb

Vine – what is it and what you need to know

Mike Koehler Featured, life, social media, social media policy 0 Comments

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,





22 Jan

Technology,Teens and What Parents Need to Know

Mike Koehler Content, Facebook, Featured, Instagram, life, OKC, Oklahoma, Pinterest, social media, Twitter Tags: , , , , , , 0 Comments

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

  • 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 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.

17 Jan

Trust, Truth and What to Make of Te’o

Mike Koehler Content, Entreprenuer, Featured, life, social media Tags: , , , , 0 Comments

My thoughts on Manti Te’o case:

The web has changed the way we think about relationships. Who “our friends” are is different than a few years ago, when a thin connection and a couple of online chats didn’t constitute something to be thought of as a real friendship.
Of course, as may or may not be the case with T’eo, truth and identity has changed because of the web. I could go online right now and create the life of a college co-ed. She could have a Twitter and a Facebook account. I could fill in a random high school, stock it with photos that are just a right-click away. Then I could find a chat site and become that person. Behind this monitor, anyone can become anyone.
Whether Te’o was in it or no just speaks to the overall notion of what the online world has done to “truth”. Remember, today is also the day that Lance Armstrong is speaking. How much Te’o knew and when he knew it is caught up in the flow of information between him, the girlfriend/hoaxer and the media waiting to spread a good story.
Finally, that’s where I feel the strongest in all of this. This shows the continuing flux of movement beneath the feet of the media, as it grew from a feel-good story that made for great (albeit shallowly reported) pieces on ESPN, to something that was “a Deadspin story” into a time of self-reflection for those reporters who were taken in by what may have been a massive con by someone who almost won the Heisman.
In a way this story both hurts and helps our trust in what we see online. It should make more people skeptical about whether a drama or tragedy that sounds too-good-to-be-true is, but it should also show us that sites like Deadspin, which lure us with lurid, linkbait headlines every day are also close enough to the web to understand it and report on it.


08 Jan

Real-time Scandals: The Benefits of Social Media Training

Allie Carrick Content, Featured, life, OKC, Oklahoma, Small Business, SmallBiz, social media, social media policy, Twitter Tags: , , , , , , , 0 Comments

Social media provides so many opportunities to connect with the public instantly. The downside of the positive opportunities is the possibility for instant embarrassment.

Twitter isn’t the top used social media network, but could arguably be the most powerful. Reckless personal use of this platform has caused politicians to resign, gotten a Greek triple-jumper banned from the London Olympics and lead to the firing of a Chrysler marketing executive.

It’s obvious that in a moment, with a careless decision, a bad post on social media networks could negatively affect your life or brand. Posts can be deleted, but not always forgotten.

In the Chrysler case, a marketing executive was fired after tweeting an expletive filled rant about Detroit’s driving issues. Chrysler has just released a new marketing campaign promoting its made in Detroit status and the controversial was the exact opposite of its branding message.

Simply, think before you post. But, it can’t be that simple because if it was possible for people to just change behavior, they would. The larger conversation is that social media training is now necessary in the workplace.

Implementing a code of conduct will protect some employees from themselves. Negative actions on social media are usually dealt with after the fact. Your employees must understand their behavior is a reflection of your brand. With any behavior correction, the punishment can’t effectively prevent embarrassing behavior without a warning.

Social media training doesn’t have to be approached as a negative experience. It’s an opportunity to understand the dynamic of personal social media use before committing an action that can’t be reversed.

Nothing is truly private in the digital age.

Smirk New Media offers social media training services that can be tailored to individual situations. Let us know how we can help you.

07 Jan

Why Smirk?

Mike Koehler life, Mike Koehler, Small Business Tags: , , , , , , , 0 Comments

I often get asked about why Smirk New Media is called Smirk New Media. Here’s a quick origin story:

After trying a bunch of very stiff and “business-y” names on for size, my wife and I looked at each other and said it was time to just get real with the name of my new social media consulting business.

Smirk New Media was born in 2010, letting people know the attitude we had and the business we were in. Social media has always been the intersection of a punchline and a very serious way to connect with your customers.

Smirk – that intersection of a grin and a grimace – fit perfect.

04 Jan

5 business tips for my jean-shorted, 21-year-old self

Mike Koehler Content, Entreprenuer, Featured, life, Mike Koehler, Small Business, SmallBiz Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , 0 Comments

Becoming an entrepreneur late in my career – after 15 years in print journalism – I had a dearth of business knowledge that I had to catch up on really quickly. So there's lots of advice to offer my 21-year-old English major self.

02 Jan

Three words for 2013

Mike Koehler Content, Featured, life, Mike Koehler, SmallBiz, social media, the internet is great Tags: , , , , , 0 Comments

Looking ahead …

For the past few years, I’ve tried to adopt the idea (first put forth by Chris Brogan) to forget about New Year’s resolutions and define the upcoming year with three words.

By focusing on just three words, you are able to give yourself (and your business) guiding principles that can then turn into goals and tactics as the year progresses.

Smirk New Media saw impressive growth in 2012. We added some great minds to our staff and and have some bold plans for the year(s) ahead.

Without further ado, our three words:

CHOICE: The landscape for social media marketing is a lot different than when Smirk launched in 2010. We’ve seen competitors rise and fall, larger agencies wake up to the need for social media services and businesses of all types wonder how to fit in online communication with their staff and marketing plans. Smirk New Media will focus on being the right choice for the right companies in 2013, in terms of expertise, pricing, services and return on investment. We focus solely on web content – be it social media, a great blog, a compelling email newsletter, SEO-friendly content or the right words for a pay-per-click campaign. The quality of our work will set us apart as the best choice.

CREATIVITY: That said, I want Smirk New Media to focus more on providing creative content in addition to the consistency we give our clients. Consistency gets your business in front of customers and potential customers on a regular basis, but creative content is going to make your brand stick. Continuing to learn more about what sets our clients apart and how to turn that into content which will draw lots of eyeballs.

COMMUNITY: Thanks to our success, Smirk New Media is excited about being more involved in its communities. We are members of the American Marketing Association and Kansas City strategist Matt Derrick recently was named to KC’s PRSA board. We will be reaching out with sponsorships and support of all types in 2013. I’m also looking at how to build more of a community within the social media pros in our area, as well as how we do things internally with the Smirk New Media team. So much of our success depends on great relationships and connections, both online and off. Those will continue to be nurtured in the coming year.

Well, those are my three words for 2013. Hope this will start off a great conversation on this blog in the coming year.

What are yours?

– Mike



30 Jul

Is Google introducing the web’s future with Fiber in Kansas City?

Mike Koehler Content, Featured, Google Plus, Google+, Kansas City, life, the internet is great 1 Comment

By Matt Derrick, Smirk Kansas City

After nearly 18 months of wonderment, speculation and imagination, Google finally unveiled what its fiber-to-the-home initiative in Kansas City will look like. It’s definitely an interesting picture, albeit a work in progress.

Here’s what we know: Google Fiber will combine a superfast Internet connection of up to a gigabit download and upload speeds with a conventional cable TV offering. The combined price for Internet and TV will be $120 a month, while Internet only will cost $70 a month. There is a steep $300 connection fee Google is currently waiving.

If consumers are lucky, many of the gigabit Internet features will become industry standards. Google promises no data caps along with its superfast speeds as well as 1 TB Google Drive cloud storage. That kind of storage space through your ISP could put a serious dent in the cloud storage and external hard drive markets.

On the Internet side, the real game changer from a broadband access perspective is the “free” broadband service Google will offer. For a one-time fee of $300 (or $25 for the first 12 months), you can get a 5 mbps service for at least seven years. That breaks down to a price of around $3.60 per month.

At the introductory event, Google spent nearly as much time talking about TV as they did the Gigabit Internet. In attempting to reinvent cable TV, Google has shrunk the cable box and added a 7-inch Android tablet remote with Bluetooth capabilities. You also get a 2 TB storage box that can hold up to 500 hours of HD recordings along with uploading your own videos and photos.

Upstart cable TV providers have a tremendous advantage over existing competitors since they don’t have to design operating systems and features that accommodate older legacy equipment. Google has taken advantage of that fact with a sleek, intuitive interface that could also become industry standard.

With all the questions that were answered, many remain. Despite an impressive feature list, the current TV offerings are laughable. The company says it is launching Google Fiber with content from providers who share their vision. Currently, that doesn’t include Disney/ABC, Fox, Time Warner Inc. or AMC Networks. Hard to imagine a relevant cable provider without the Disney Channel, ESPN, Fox News, Fox Sports, CNN, HBO, TNT or AMC. Hopefully the lineup will expand before full deployment.

Another potential red flag is the speed test at the launch event. With presumably no one else on the network, the Google demo achieved average download speeds of 937 mbps and upload speeds of 784 mbps. Blazing fast, but below the advertised speed of a gigabit both ways. Google also isn’t yet offering this service to businesses, but says it will down the road.

There is one huge question left unanswered. What the heck do you do with a gigabit? Google doesn’t seem to know for sure either. Their demo focused on the mundane examples of moving HD video and high-resolution photos … no mention of killer apps or hints of a technological breakthrough that will make everyone wish they had a gigabit. At this point, the biggest draw appears to be that everyone in your home can stream Netflix at the same time to every device you own with no lag. A great feature, but not exactly The Next Big Idea.

One idea that would be great to see KC embrace is to tackle the challenge of access. While $300 for seven years or more of broadband access is a tremendous deal, even that price is out of reach for many low-income working families. For as little as $500, you could equip a student with a broadband connection and a net book computer. There are just under 17,000 students in the Kansas City, Mo. School District. Wouldn’t it be cool if Kansas City found a way to raise the approximately $8.5 million needed to provide free broadband and a computer to every student in the school district?

Google is currently accepting pre-registrations with a deadline of Sept. 9 for eligible neighborhoods. Those neighborhoods that met pre-registration goals will be the first to get the service. The first installations could only be a few weeks away, so we should soon start hearing the reviews.

14 May

Spring clean your social media!

Mike Koehler Content, Facebook, Featured, Google Plus, Google+, life, LinkedIn, Pinterest, social media, the internet is great, Twitter 0 Comments

With summer rapidly approaching, it’s time to do some spring-cleaning around your social media sites to keep your followers hype and to gain even more attention. Through research, observation and experience, we’ve got a few tips to help you step your game up.

1. Personalize it.

Too many companies have resorted to using automated tweets and posts to market their services. Customize your updates by attaching a message before the link so that consumers recognize that it isn’t just generic. By adding a message, it also increases your endorsement, because every share or retweet after that point will include your name and message, not just the URL. Let’s be real: less people stay on the phone for an automated
recording; likewise less people view the post of an automated URL.

2. Play off Pinterest.

Pinterest has become one of the hottest commodities as of late. If your company doesn’t have any pins circulating- start pinning. And if you do, then pay close attention to the types of people that are pinning your products. Key in on their other interests and try to create an even more intriguing image by getting to know the tastes of those who fancy yours.

3. Put on some makeup.

So to speak, of course. You can grab a lot of attention with some simple site maintenance. You don’t have to give your social media pages a total makeover; just give them a little touch up. People enjoy a change of scenery every now and then. By doing little things such as putting up new pictures, altering some colors or changing a background, your online profile can take on a whole new look.

Don’t let your online appearance get sloppy. Refresh your focus, clean up your design and leave the people coming back for more!

23 Apr

Is BranchOut gaining on LinkedIn?

Mike Koehler life, LinkedIn, Nerd culture, social media, the internet is great Tags: , , , 0 Comments

By Jessica Findley

LinkedIn is considered to be the world’s largest professional network with over 12 million members and counting. It helps you connect with trusted contacts- colleagues, friends, administrators, etc. LinkedIn enables you to exchange ideas, knowledge and opportunities with your particular network of professionals. It is also a place for employees and employers to put themselves out there. For professionals on the rise, a LinkedIn profile provides space for resumes, recommendations and suggested connections to give them a push start.

However, a Facebook application founded in July 2010 is giving LinkedIn a run for its money.

It’s been two years since BranchOut’s beginning, and the application already has 25 million registered users. After just one year it had 3 million open job listings, 20,000 internships listed and was already active in 60 countries in 15 different languages.

If that’s not competition, I don’t know what is.

BranchOut is useful for finding jobs, networking with other professionals and recruiting employees. BranchOut also allows each user to conveniently see which of their friends work for which company. In doing so, it does not limit you to making connections one person at a time- you just connect to an existing group.

By creating products for job seekers and recruiters such as CareerConnect and RecruiterConnect, companies are able to publish their openings on Facebook via BranchOut. RecruiterConnect, a concept that originated with LinkedIn, caused a ruckus, however, when it was flagged as a violation of LinkedIn’s terms of service, and BranchOut was furthermore blocked from accessing its API to avoid “knocking-off” their services.

But, despite the controversy, BranchOut continues to get 10+ million new visitors a month, placing it ahead of the other most popular applications on Facebook Skype, Twitter, Pinterest and the newly added Instagram.

So while Facebook is helping BranchOut spoil all of the fun for LinkedIn, the moment Facebook launches a new and improved career outlet, BranchOut is toast.

Dog eat dog. Only the strong survive. Every man for himself. LinkedIn stands alone, but BranchOut branches off someone else. So I’m pretty interested to see who will win this battle when it’s all said and done.



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