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End of the line for Vine

October 30, 2016 - Posted by

Say goodbye to Vine. This week, the company announced that it would be looping no more. While the main website Death of Vinewill still be available for users to download their content, the mobile app will soon be discontinued.

It makes sense- when you can include quick video snips and hilarious gifs in every platform, there’s no need for a separate app. And Vine was at it’s best when the clips were a little goofy. (The Ringer has a thorough, although NSFW roundup to fuel your nostalgia.)

The Hits Keep Coming
The bad news about Vine was just one of many negative headlines for Twitter, who owns it. There was the one about the share price lawsuit. And the one about job cuts. Even the news about the positive quarterly earnings seemed to get less coverage than speculation about its 4 am start time of the call.

On the same call, Twitter announced that new safety features will be releasing new safety features some time in November. Considering that abuse was seen as one of the reasons no one wanted to buy Twitter this fall, it’s well past time they get it under control.

 

About the author:
Tara Saylor Litzenberger is a communications manager by day, grad student by night and curious all the time. She is also a web nerd and recovering copywriter. Tara focuses on the channels that enable communication and using metrics to improve communication effectiveness. She tweets about communication and combines as @AnokheeTara.

Using social media to help save lives

October 30, 2016 - Posted by

Cyber bullying. Fear of missing out. Social media addiction. Envy of perfectly curated feeds. There’s plenty of hand-wringing over the potential negative impacts that social media can have on mental health. So it’s great to share a story about using the power of social media for good.instagram mental health

Last week, Instagram announced a new feature that allows you to send an anonymous message if you see someone hinting at self-harm, suicide, or an eating disorder. The user will get a message with links to mental health resources based on their location. The same support message will occur if a user searches for certain hashtags.

And remember:  You don’t have to wait for a new feature to launch to reach out if you’re worried about a friend. And if you need to talk to someone, the National Suicide Prevention Line is there 24/7.

 

About the author:
Tara Saylor Litzenberger is a communications manager by day, grad student by night and curious all the time. She is also a web nerd and recovering copywriter. Tara focuses on the channels that enable communication and using metrics to improve communication effectiveness. She tweets about communication and combines as @AnokheeTara.

Meerkat is no more, and Facebook goes to work

October 10, 2016 - Posted by

Anyone remember Meerkat, the livestreaming app? It was Periscope 1.0, feted at SXSW ,and now, officially dead. Recode has a thorough autopsy report, and Meerkat’s parent company, Life On Air, is still in business.

The most telling quote I read about it all came from co-founder Ben Rubin: “The category of broadcast (one-to-many) wasn’t breaking as a daily habit…it’s too far away from the everyday user.”

In other words, if people aren’t using it, it doesn’t matter how much love you get from the press.

Facebook goes to work…and the store…and to VRjan-brady-bunch
I have a confession to make here, everyone—I’m really not trying to flood this blog with posts about Facebook. It’s just hard to write about social media without talking about the 9,000-pound gorilla in the room.

And it’s been a busy gorilla lately.  So let’s hit the highlights:

  • Privacy? What privacy? The EU isn’t fooling around when it comes to privacy laws
  • Marketplace is open for business – I’ve had this in my app for months now, so I didn’t realize it was a new feature. Facebook launched The Marketplace, a classified session similar to Craigslist. Users promptly flooded it with drugs, guns and live animals. Pretty sure this is why we can’t have nice things.
  • Facebook for Work moves beyond a pilot – The logic seems to be “hey, everyone knows how to use Facebook already.” The release says they’ll offer the analytics to companies who pay for an internal network, but given Facebook’s data-hungry ways, I’m very curious to know what else they’ll do with it.
  • Moving to VR – One of the strengths of social media is that it helps people stay in touch despite distance. A demo at the recent Oculus conference made it pretty clear that Facebook considers Virtual Reality a way to bring people together.
  • Events will be a standalone app – It could just be my empty social calendar, but I don’t quite get this one.  Are they coming after Eventbrite?
  • Instagram turns six – And no, they won’t be going back to a chronological timeline.

Chatbots don’t judge you.

To close this out on a non-Facebook note, this is my favorite use of chatbots to date. DuoLingo will let users practice languages with chatbots, since many found the idea of practicing with a complete stranger intimidating. Plus, chatbots won’t make fun of your bad accent. ¡Excelente!

 

About the author:
Tara Saylor Litzenberger is a communications manager by day, grad student by night and curious all the time. She is also a web nerd and recovering copywriter. Tara focuses on the channels that enable communication and using metrics to improve communication effectiveness. She tweets about communication and combines as @AnokheeTara.

Spectacles, Sales Talk, and Statistics

September 26, 2016 - Posted by

Snap, Inc.’s SpectaclesSnap Spectacles
It’s been a busy week in social media. For starters, Snapchat is launching a new wearable, a pair of connected glasses that “make memories from your perspective.” Can these glasses, called Spectacles, work where Google Glass didn’t?  Maybe. The $130 price tag is much more accessible than Google Glass, and they’re being positioned as something fun (and maybe even frivolous) instead of a smart device. They certainly draw from a different design aesthetic.

A new name also signals that the company wants to be serious business. The app itself is still Snapchat, but the company will henceforth be known as Snap, Inc. It’s also rolling out new targeting options for advertisers, although how that plays against its reputation for privacy has yet to be seen.

Twitter Sale Rumors
People have been speculating (often on Twitter) that Twitter is looking for a buyer. Right now, the two main contenders seem to be Google’s parent company, Alphabet, and customer relationship management giant Salesforce.  Verizon is mentioned from time to time as well.

Considering the PR beating Twitter took this summer, the fact that it’s finally dealing with harassment could be the company’s equivalent of investing in new paint to get a house ready to sell.

Statistics (Ok, Metrics)
Technically, this a metrics story, but I really enjoyed the alliterative headline. In either case, Facebook recently ‘fessed up that it had made a serious miscalculation in its metrics for video ads. For two years.

Predictably, Facebook is assuring everyone that it didn’t impact billing or other video metrics. TechCrunch found some companies willing to say that the whole thing is NBD, you guys, since we totally don’t use that metric anyway.

Once again, it shows how much power Facebook has with marketers. If marketers want to reach their audiences where they are, it means playing ball with Facebook and relying on Facebook’s data to understand what worked. That also means relying on the company to tell them if the data is incorrect.

Little scary, isn’t it?

 

About the author:
Tara Saylor Litzenberger is a communications manager by day, grad student by night and curious all the time. She is also a web nerd and recovering copywriter. Tara focuses on the channels that enable communication and using metrics to improve communication effectiveness. She tweets about communication and combines as @AnokheeTara.

Facebook’s fake news

September 20, 2016 - Posted by

From bloggers to elected officials, everyone was talking about Facebook’s trending topics section last spring. People were particularly worried about allegations of censorship, which Facebook flatly denied.

This August, Facebook officially went all-in on its algorithm, firing the human editors and counting on the AI. The move wasn’t unexpected; in fact, the only thing surprising was that they didn’t promote it more, since they had always planned to have the algorithm take over.

Or maybe that was good planning on Facebook’s part, considering it only took a few hours for a hoax article about Megyn Kelly and reports of people behaving badly with a McChicken (nswf, and it’s really not worth the search) to dominate the stream.

Oops, indeed.Cher Clueless

Professional journalists are simultaneously breathing a sigh of relief that the algorithm couldn’t hack it and worrying about the future implications for the industry. Let’s face it: Facebook is a dominant social network, if not the dominant one, and Americans increasingly get their news from social media. In fact, the average user is spending 50 minutes per day on Facebook and/or Instagram.

So for anyone, journalist or advertiser, who wants to reach users where they already are, Facebook is a pretty good bet. The thing is Facebook is in the business of making money for Facebook. That isn’t a bad thing by any means, but the implications of algorithms can be huge.

The good news: Facebook, along with Twitter, YouTube and Buzzfeed, just joined First Draft, an organization that helps newsrooms and publishers verify stories. First Draft also has some helpful tips for sharing information in ways that don’t help hoaxers build backlinks.

And remember – if you’re not sure if a story’s real, there’s always Snopes.

 

About the author:
Tara Saylor Litzenberger is a communications manager by day, grad student by night and curious all the time. She is also a web nerd and recovering copywriter. Tara focuses on the channels that enable communication and using metrics to improve communication effectiveness. She tweets about communication and combines as @AnokheeTara.

Twitter is ready for some football

September 20, 2016 - Posted by

More specifically, a Jets/Bills game it streamed live on Thursday night.  According to the NFL, the livestream averaged some 243,000 viewers. (The NFL also touted 2.3 people watching at least 3 seconds of the pre-game or game, but that sounds more like a load-testing statistic than actual viewership.)Twitter Thursday Night Football

And the response was… mostly good. Re/Code, which has a full write up of the experience, admits, It was fine.Engadget went so far as to say it “mostly worked.”  Techcrunch went so far as to say “Two million people streamed the NFL on Twitter last night and loved it,” but that’s just more unbridled enthusiasm than we can handle. The biggest complaint was a delay between the live broadcast and the stream.

It’s not just the video, though. Along with the game, viewers saw a stream of curated tweets from “players, refs, reporters, self-hating Jets fans.” And you can watch the stream anywhere that you access Twitter, including their new apps for Amazon Fire, Xbox One and Apple TV. Basically, it’s the experience we all wish we had for the Olympics (dang millennials!).

This is really good press for Twitter, who could use some good press about now.  It’s also right in line with CEO-for-now Jack’s Dorsey’s persistent argument that Twitter is a way to connect people to world events real-time, not “just” a social network.  It’s also another in a series of incremental moves that Twitter has been making, including a revenue-sharing model for video creators, read receipts for direct messages, a quality filter, and disappearing live notification buttons.

So did you try the Twitter stream? Plan to check it out this Thursday? We’d love to hear about it—just tweet us, of course!

 

About the author:
Tara Saylor Litzenberger is a communications manager by day, grad student by night and curious all the time. She is also a web nerd and recovering copywriter. Tara focuses on the channels that enable communication and using metrics to improve communication effectiveness. She tweets about communication and combines as @AnokheeTara.

Hello, Lifestage. Goodbye, Privacy?

August 29, 2016 - Posted by

For a while now, I’ve been wondering what hot new app will draw in teens now that the olds are braving Snapchat. Facebook is ready to win them back over with its new Lifestage app.

The app itself is pretty simple- lots of video, Snapchat-style overlays. Were it gets interesting are the settings. It’s directly targeted at high school students, and when 20 or more students from the same school activate the app, they’re automatically connected, no friending required. No one over 21 is allowed.How do you do, fellow kids?

That last part is where things get…dicey. Lifestage has no privacy settings. Anything posted is visible to everyone in the network. While the site is only visible to users, there’s no verification that the user is actually a student.

Generally, tech reporters see Lifestage as a Snapchat competitor. People who remember Facebook’s early years are having waves of nostalgia for the good old days. And there’s a fair amount of pearl-clutching around the legitimate privacy concerns.

Earlier this year, the Pew Research Center released a study on Americans’ attitudes toward privacy and data sharing. One interesting discovery was that people under 50 were considerably more comfortable sharing information on a social platform than those over 50.

Makes you wonder if teens will be more comfortable with Lifestage than adults.

 

About the author:
Tara Saylor Litzenberger is a communications manager by day, grad student by night and curious all the time. She is also a web nerd and recovering copywriter. Tara focuses on the channels that enable communication and using metrics to improve communication effectiveness. She tweets about communication and combines as @AnokheeTara.

How do you face a crisis?

August 17, 2016 - Posted by

In preparation for the upcoming September 9 breakfast Crisis Communications in a Social Era, the Morningstar team provided us with a preview of what's to come:Crisis Communications Breakfast

We can all agree a company’s brand and reputation are essential for its continued success. If your business is like most, you’ve spent years building a position of respect. In a moment, a crisis can put that all in jeopardy.

In a 24-hour news cycle, a crisis does not allow for any timeouts, and it rarely is a question of if, but when these situations will arise. In recent years we’ve seen Aramark handle challenges with food quality at The K, Southwest Airlines experience a massive technology failure, and Chipolte face E. Coli contaminations.

As communicators, we can all learn from these incidents and the best practices developed over the years. Planning is key, and a commitment to transparency and accuracy is essential. Join my colleague, Brian Van Note, and I on Sept. 9 as we discuss crisis communications in a social era. You’ll head back to the office with the following takeaways:

  • Steps for creating your crisis communications plan
  • Tips for communicating effectively in a crisis
  • How to use social media to your advantage before and during a crisis situation
  • Three immediate actions steps that will help position your company for crisis communications success

We all hope we never have to face a crisis. But if we do, we’d rather be prepared than scrambling. We look forward to seeing you at Grand Street Café next month. Register today at the SMCKC eventbrite page.

 

About the Author:
Tricia McKim is vice president at Morningstar Communications. For more than 10 years, she’s helped companies refine their message and communication strategy to create content that drives results.

Twitter needs a moment

August 15, 2016 - Posted by

In official coverage, Twitter announceYour Twitter Mentionsd that it’s expanding its Moments feature to “influencers, partners, brands… and in the coming months, everyone.

Examples shared in the blog post range from the newsworthy (Gymnast Simone Biles at #Rio2016) to activist (deray mckesson’s archive of Ferguson 2014) to the blatantly promotional (this Bud’s for you).

So kind of like Instagram’s new stories, but with fewer captions written on the pictures and more of a focus on unfolding events. To be fair, Moments have been around since 2015,  but Instagram wasn’t interested in stories till people liked them on Snapchat.

Too little, too late?

Coverage of Twitter isn’t focused on its ability to cover then news -- it’s been focused on Twitter’s reputation as one of the least friendly places online (links mostly sfw, but the topics gets…icky). Abuse has been a long-standing problem for Twitter, and it has an impact. People routinely use nicknames for a certain Presidential candidate to avoid drawing the attention of his followers, both human and bot. Microsoft had to pull an AI chatbot off the platform within 24 hours because it was learning abusive things.

Recently, Twitter did take action. Breitbart editor Milo Yiannopoulos was permanently suspended for his role in encouraging abuse against actress Leslie Jones. Still, Twitter made sure to point out that the ban was because Yiannopoulos didn’t follow the terms of service, not due to anything he said.

Still, Yiannopoulos is gone, and Jones is doing some glorious live tweeting the Olympics.

Where to go from here?

Twitter has a mess on its hands. There’s high turnover with company leaders, a shrinking user base,  and the nasty reputation. Still, people don’t seem ready to give up on its potential. Charlie Warzel of Buzzfeed and Nausicaa Renner at the Colombia Journal Review both offer up insightful long reads about how Twitter found itself here and what it can do to turn things around.

The question is will things be turned around, or will the Fail Whale land forever?

 

About the author:
Tara Saylor Litzenberger is a communications manager by day, grad student by night and curious all the time. She is also a web nerd and recovering copywriter. Tara focuses on the channels that enable communication and using metrics to improve communication effectiveness. She tweets about communication and combines as @AnokheeTara.

The Smart Approach to Influencer Marketing

August 8, 2016 - Posted by

From the videos we watch to the recipes we try, information and entertainment has gone social. As these new tastemakers and experts emerge, we scope their style on Instagram, laugh at their YouTube videos, and attempt their DIY blog suggestions.

People who make great content can build a loyal audience, and companies have found partnering with these influencers is an effective way to reach their fans.

Justin Goldsborough and Allie Wilmes from FleishmanHillard offered some tips for launching an influencer marketing campaign:

  • Do your homework – Automated tools like Tapfluence can help you get started, but don’t underestimate the Influencerimportance of getting familiar with an influencer before you start working together. Don’t expect a blogger known for vegetarian recipes to suddenly start cooking steaks, and a YouTube star known for off-color humor may not be a good fit for a conservative company.
  • Get a good contract – Allie and Justin couldn’t stress this one enough. Spell out your expectations for your content requirements and compensation. If you don’t want an influencer to work with your competition for 90 days, now is the time to discuss it. You may be able to negotiate reuse rights for content that the influencer creates.
  • Let the influencer be creative – Giving up creative control can be terrifying for many companies, but when it comes to working with influencers, it can make the difference between a successful campaign and a failure. Influencers know what will resonate with their audiences. Too much “sales speak” is likely to backfire.
  • Tie the campaign to KPIs or key performance indicators – Well-done influencer campaigns can do much more than generate clicks.  Something as simple as an exclusive coupon code can help you track the impact.
  • Keep it legal – As influencer marketing gets increasingly popular, the FTC has established guidelines for endorsement.  Kim Kardashian, Lord & Taylor and Cole Haan have all found themselves in trouble.  Don’t add your brand to the list.

Want to learn more? Check out the presentation for more great tips and case studies.

 

About the author:
Tara Saylor Litzenberger is a communications manager by day, grad student by night and curious all the time. She is also a web nerd and recovering copywriter. Tara focuses on the channels that enable communication and using metrics to improve communication effectiveness. She tweets about communication and combines as @AnokheeTara.