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When the Social Media Circus Leaves Town

David Bowie died almost two months ago. Soon after, we posted about the tawdry British reality TV show making money from his ex-wife’s reactions. Inevitably, her presence on the show at the time and her response to the news created a social media firestorm.
Focus, of course has moved on to the latest deaths, tragedies, political intrigues and sporting victories / defeats. But it’s worth pondering the enduring impact that not being news has on the people who were previously at the centre of the world’s attention. Or at least, the attention of those on Twitter, Instagram and other social media platforms.
Some crave re-gaining their anonymity. It’s hard to imagine what it would be like to be related to a global celebrity. There are countless examples of wives, children, parents and siblings of celebrities doing things that reflect negatively – funny isn’t it that it’s always the bad behaviour that grabs the headlines – on their famous relation. Others try to make money from their association

Others, it seems, miss the limelight and do whatever they can to re-capture the attention.
Social media reflects the best and worst of human nature and consequently can destroy as much as it can create. The most popular blog post we’ve ever written by a factor of two discusses ’How social media is helping to beat cyber-bullying‘. There have been far too many examples of social media attention driving people to despair – or worse.
So what’s the take out? Unless you have a clear plan and can stick to that plan, be very wary about exposing yourself too much in these very public forums. While it’s tempting to seek approval and show the world how amazingly fabulous your life is, the other side of the coin can show itself quickly and easily. Someone can post nasty or incriminating content about you and your whole carefully crafted image can come crumbling down. Footballer Mitchell Pearce has recently found that out to his great cost.
We’re quite active on social media but we’re also very selective about what we do and don’t post. In other words, we try to have a foot in both camps: active yet under the radar. When we launched a new business some years ago the media we generated brought several anonymous cowards out of the woodwork posting all manner of nasty comments about the business and me. Or so I was told. I still believe my reaction to our own social media maelstrom was perfect: I didn’t read any of it and never have.
In Greek mythology, Icarus ignored his father’s advice and flew too close to the sun and subsequently fell to earth when his feather and wax wings melted. We see the social media equivalent all the time.
Here’s the key point: you don’t need to be on social media. Or at least you don’t need to be constantly posting photos and videos of every coffee you drink, croughnut you eat or person you kiss. You are entitled to a life where every aspect of it is not pored over by others some of whom may have no good will toward you.
Like sugar, social media can be addictive as it gives you an immediate buzz. But like sugar, the longer-term consequences of living your life on social media can be harmful - or worse.

Hang Gliding

Latest Social Media Stats for Marketing

We’ve looked at some of the most recent studies on social media topics and trends and picked out our most surprising and revealing ones that all businesses should be aware of. Let us know if you find any other good ones.

I Post Therefore I Am

I didn’t post on Facebook today. I didn’t upload a photo to Instagram or a video to YouTube. Today, I didn’t exist.
That’s what it seems like for those of us who ‘must’ regularly post, tweet, upload, like or comment. One of our 20 something client service staff had her mobile phone stolen and was without it for three weeks. It was purgatory for her – and for us. Being off the social grid is like being off life support.
In the old days people kept diaries. Every night they confided their deepest and most personal dreams, fears and aspirations to a book meant only for themselves. It was part confessional, part friend. There was never any judgement or comments from others. Your diary was sacrosanct; it was for you and no-one else.
How quaint. How boring.
Now if what we do and feel is not there for the world to see and judge, we’re somehow diminished. There’s only one thing that’s worse: if one of our posts gets no likes or comments.
It’s ridiculous isn’t it. Call it an addiction to social validation or to our mobile phones; either way, it has to have an impact on how we interact with the world.

Try walking down a busy street and see how often you’re almost bowled over by someone walking the other way engrossed in their mobile phone. As for the impact on car accidents, the numbers – according to a US National Safety Council study – are terrifying with 1 in 4 accidents caused by ‘cell phone distraction’.
Is there a solution? I can’t think of one. As technology permeates every corner of our lives and increases our slavish consumption of social media, our values are changing. We seem to care less about what we personally see, touch or smell and more about what we read, watch or listen to.
The sad twist in the tail is that so much of what is posted and consumed on social media is trivial beyond belief. Photos of daily cups of coffee, pets, inspirational quotes, selfies at the beach, child standing/walking/swimming etc. This is the content that’s so vital eye contact can’t be established or the road watched.
If this is a younger generational thing, what will the next generation cling to? Or given that everyone under 35 seems so obsessed with their digital world, perhaps there won’t be another generation.
The Message is brought to you by Tick Yes – providing solutions for all your digital and content marketing needs.
Image Courtesy: twoinklingsintheshire.blogspot.com.au, prezi.com, broku.ca

What’s in a Social Media Policy?

Almost everything you post online is open for public viewing. This should come as no surprise but you wouldn’t believe how often a lack of common sense is the culprit in social media mishaps. Yes, there are numerous examples we could provide: People posting (what many of us would call inappropriately) silly videos of themselves on YouTube or tweets that were meant to be funny but took to Mama Mia’s leading story within minutes. Then there’s the occasional picture meant for a partner that in some way managed to reach the entire Instagram public. What people do in their free time is their business, but what if they are doing it whilst representing your business? The obvious solution is to ban social media, but as it turns out, it’s also a very bad idea (unless you’re going for a reign of terror, and employees will just find a way anyway).
What you need is a social media policy.
Ah, yes, one of those policy thingies. If it’s well put together, it could save you a lot of embarrassment whilst getting your brand out of harm’s way. But this goes beyond risk management; there are clear benefits in allowing, and encouraging, your employees to update their social media accounts at work (in moderation of course). As experts on most things related to your business they are ideal brand advocates, and all come with their own networks of potential customers.  Your employees are your extra marketing team, customer service team and in house support team. Allow them the opportunity to communicate amongst themselves and with the rest of the world and they will help your business grow. They do however need guidelines.
A social media policy should do two things; provide guidelines to the employees, preventing them from causing or getting into trouble and inform them of the disciplinary actions that will be taken if they do. You could of course Google another company’s policy and use that as a template, but the document will be that much more effective if it’s customised to your particular field with your employee’s particular positions in mind. Ask yourself these three questions;

        What’s the worst that could happen if employees are allowed access to social media?
        How does my social media policy prevent this worst case scenario?
        How would it have employees respond to it if it happened?

Be clear and concise in your policy. “Be professional in what you say on your social media profile” is a good start, however when not put into context this alone leaves a little too much for self interpretation (note, don’t be too precise either, or you’ll risk drowning the message in definitions). It should all be based on common sense; the policy should be a supportive document, not a hindrance. It won’t do you or your company any good if it diminishes social media efficiency.
So, what can be found in a valuable social media policy?

        A paragraph on who the document applies to – are freelancers and employees working from home included?
        Guidelines on what employees shouldn’t do online (what information to disclose, what not to share, what sites not to visit etc);
        Guidelines on what employees CAN do (encourage creative behaviour that indirectly hints at your amazing corporate culture);
        Information on disciplinary measures;
        An educating section on online behaviour, just in case;

The positive effect your employees’ online presence can have on your business is too good to pass up. Make sure to educate employees in the potential dangers of online activity and about sharing information too generously. Present them with so called “Cosmic Law”, coined by Jay Shepherd; always assume that the one you least want to see your post will in fact see it. With this in mind let your people get out there and endorse your brand to help it grow.
The Message is brought to you by Tick Yes – providing solutions for all your digital and content marketing needs.
Image courtesy: thesocialworkplace.com, socialnewsdaily.com

Twitter’s Grand Design

So Twitter has been quite active recently. It’s what’s to be expected from a network of Twitter’s calibre; as a recently listed company they have quietly introduced a new profile pagedesign to a limited amount of users (a complement to an earlier redesign). As one of the top ten biggest social networks, it was only a matter of time before the little blue bird would make it into the stock exchange, thus constant updates are to be considered a necessity.
The new design has however been far too familiar for some users, as it’s quite similar to updates as seen on Facebook and/or Google+. Changes include:

        A larger profile photo and a wider header photo;
        Tweets are no longer arranged vertically, but scattered in a way resembling a news feed;
        A design focusing a lot more on images and video in general;

One might wonder where this is heading. Becoming more image-oriented is one way of taking on competitors like Instagram (and owner Facebook) head on, while changes to the timeline could be a way of making it more compatible with sponsored tweets. Ultimately; these recent updates has made Twitter a significantly competitive communication platform for marketing.

At the time of writing, it’s not sure whether or not all changes will be applicable, but it gets you thinking about the future of social media (in terms of this becoming generic interface) and its impact on the user experience. Competing social networks are moving towards similar end results – they want to connect people, they want users to share quality content, they want ad revenue and they want to be the social network user’s preference over their competitors. Piece of cake?
There are similar problems solved with similar solutions. Twitter started out allowing # and @ in posts, Facebook then followed suit as it’s a great way of connecting users with one another (consumer and brands). If an image oriented interface gives Twitter the opportunity to compete with Instagram, then that might be just what they needed to enhance the network’s functionality. If a profile page design works more effectively than others, then why change a winning concept?
Video is currently receiving a double golden thumbs up award for being the best communication medium, predicted to make out 50% of the total online consumption in 2014 and 69% in 2017 (according to a Cisco study cited by The Guardian). This would have us expect social networks to adapt accordingly. Will this result in a number of social media platforms looking pretty much the same? And how will they evolve from there? Either they fall back on their respective niches, or they merge into some kind of super network. We can make great things happen if we collaborate, or is that being overly optimistic?
What we see is the evolution of social media – the survival of the fittest. In China, social network RenRen took a swing at competitor Kaixin by buying the kaixin.com URL and use it in quite an unethical way. You’d like to think that this is an exception, but in the future we could be watching the ultimate showdown of the social media networks – a dirty fight to the death. Because at the end of the day, users don’t really care about the company providing the service or product. They want solutions to THEIR problems, and the one who provides these solutions will be the last one standing.
Twitter’s updates may have it looking more like its bigger competitors, but this is all part of evolution. In the end, it’s not about who has the sharpest teeth, it’s about who produces the best ideas – the best results.
The Message is brought to you by Tick Yes – providing solutions for all your digital and content marketing needs.
Image courtesy: dribbble.com, crave.cnet.co.uk

Instagram Joins the Video-posting Trend

What do you call today’s generation? Generation X? Y? Gen Z? The generation of total narcism? The “Me” generation? While there may be some debate as to what this generation should be called, one thing is for sure – it will be something that hints on how self-consumed today’s youth are.
Not to put the young ones down ‘cause they may still be the future of “yesterday’s dream”, but it’s almost a no brainer that today’s youth love themselves… a little too much. Just think of everything that social media has been producing. Think of all the “selfies”, the tweets about what they’re eating, Facebook posts about what they’re doing – everything is all about them.
However, as to how and why we should address this issue is a whole different topic. One thing is for sure, this attitude of the youth is a great social media marketing opportunity.
There’s a range of social media platforms for your brand to take advantage of, and one of the newest additions to that is Instagram video.
Yes, you heard that right! The phenomenal image sharing website now allows its users to post short video clips.
“Some moments, however, need more than a static image to come to life. Until now these stories have been missing from Instagram,” Instagram wrote on its official blog. “Today, we’re thrilled to introduce Video on Instagram and bring you another way to share your stories.”
Now that you know can optimise the use of this new feature to best of your brand, here are a few things you should learn about this new communication platform:
•    You can only post short clips.  If you’re planning to post a movie’s length of video, Youtube is your best bet. But if you just want to capture a short but meaningful clip, Instagram can help your customer engagement.
“We’re excited to see what the community will bring to video, whether it’s your local cafe showing you how they made your latte this morning or an Instagrammer on the other side of the world taking you on a tour of their city, a mother sharing her joys in parenting as her children laugh and play or your favorite athlete taking you behind the scenes,” Instagram noted on its blog.
-    Video filters are also available. Instagram has been a constant part of the any site’s “Best Photo Editing App” list. Since its release in 2010, it has been known for its image filters that help make any boring photo look awesome. Now, it brings this feature to its video-sharing feature as well.
“You’ll also find that we’ve added thirteen filters built specifically for video so you can keep sharing beautiful content on Instagram. When you post a video, you’ll also be able to select your favorite scene from what you’ve recorded as your cover image, so your videos are beautiful even when they’re not playing.”
-    It offers a unique “Cinema Feature”.  Apple users will enjoy an exclusive Instagram Video feature that allows video stabilization.
“If you’re taking videos on the go, you might find that they’re a little shaky. For iPhone 4S and iPhone 5, we’ve built a Cinema feature that lets you stabilize your video after you take it.”
The Message is brought to you by Tick Yes – providing solutions for all your digital and content marketing needs.

No Laughing Matter

Social media hoaxes may be funny to the perpetrators, but they can do serious damage to brand reputation
Social media is manna from heaven for pranksters. Even though some brands and companies seem to be experts in making social media faux pas, satirists and spoofers have embraced the medium as a means of freeing their inner David Thorne.

Of course to those companies being spoofed, these hoaxes are no laughing matter – as Just Jeans has discovered recently. As reported in the Sydney Morning Herald, the fashion retailer recently experienced a hoax account on its Facebook page that ‘played havoc on users’.
Visitors who posted comments on the page received responses from an account registered as ‘Just Jeans’ and featuring the retailer’s logo as its profile image. Which is precisely what you would expect, given that Social Media Marketing Lesson 1 is ‘engage with your customers’.
The respondent wasn’t Just Jeans but a hoaxer masquerading as the store. As a result, as the Herald reports, ‘One customer was told their comment was “so last year”, while others directed to an online “voucher” that showed an offensive picture of [AFL] footballer Ben Cousins.
‘Another customer, who left a positive message about customer service, was told the staff member involved had “filed a complaint” against her.’
Needless to say, these people were less than happy, but the fact that it took Just Jeans 12 hours to realise the problem, block the person responsible, delete the fake comments and assure their customers that they were doing everything possible to rectify the problem is a cause for concern.

 The importance of monitoring
Monitoring your social media presence – be it Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube or whatever – is an essential part of any social media and content marketing strategy.
To begin with, monitoring is a prerequisite for engagement. After all, how can you have a conversation with people if you don’t know what they are saying? But careful, close monitoring also enables companies to avoid the sort of situation being experienced now by Just Jeans and Jetstar in November last year when a hoaxer hijacked its Facebook page.
Moreover, as The Message reported at the height of last year’s Target fiasco, ‘companies are responsible for the comments posted by others on their corporate Facebook page. So if someone has posted something racist, sexist, otherwise offensive or libellous, the company is responsible’. Which means there is now a legal necessity to closely monitor your social media output.
Of course, that doesn’t mean deleting every single post that criticises you. Weeding out trolls is fine, but taking criticism on board and showing that you can learn from it is crucial when it comes to creating meaningful relationships with customers.
Simply deleting posts or suddenly changing privacy settings sends out one of two messages: either that, despite your rhetoric, you don’t really care about the thoughts and opinions of your social media audience (your customers, in other words); or that you don’t really understand social media – in which case you probably shouldn’t be using it.
Regular contact is crucial
Perhaps the most damaging detail to emerge from the Just Jeans hoax is not the hoax itself but the fact that store’s Facebook page, which has a reasonably impressive 18,600 ‘likes’ had not been visibly active since December. Even allowing for the Christmas break, that hardly speaks of a company that wants to engage with its customers.
With social media, it really is all or nothing. As Just Jeans has found, simply setting up a Facebook page is not enough – indeed, it can be quite disastrous if not supported by a cogent strategy for monitoring and managing all social media output.
The Message is brought to you by Tick Yes – providing solutions for all your digital and content marketing needs.

Instagram business basics

How Instagram can help advance your content marketing strategy
Instagram is big news. Well, to be specific, it’s big money – and anything that is big money is bound to hang around as big news for quite some time.
Yet despite social media being abuzz with hype about Instagram, and in spite of many a post (like, say, this one or even, well, this one) on our Tick Yes sister blog banging on about what a great marketing tool it is, brands and companies, for the most part, seem to be a bit slow on the uptake about how it can work for them in a content marketing sense.
So… Here are a few things you might have missed (but really should know) about Instagram and why it can work for you.
1. It’s not for everyone
Before we go any further, let us be clear: the only thing worse than a brand that doesn’t take advantage of the marketing tools available is a brand that thinks it needs to use every marketing tool available. Believe it or not, people don’t want to see your financial institution’s board meeting in sepia-tone (although they may be interested in seeing your CEO drunk at the Christmas party, but that’s an idea for a different day…).
Instagram is a creative, interesting tool that is at its most powerful when used to share creative, interesting content. Many, many brands have content that would be perfectly suited to Instagram, but if creative and interesting aren’t really your strong suit, don’t demean your efforts by trying to engage with the wrong audience.
2. It’s not just your photos that count – it’s everyone else’s
For some reason, brands are having a little more trouble grasping the viral potential of Instagram than they did with Twitter or Facebook. Perhaps it’s the visual nature of the app that stumps people, but what is vitally important to remember is that hash-tagging capability makes Instagram just as valuable as Twitter when it comes to starting conversations.
Sure, the conversation might be less verbal and more abstract, but if you want proof about how effective it can be, have a gander at the #photoadaychallenge, started by Sydney blogger FatMumSlim. The concept is brilliantly simple: she releases a virtual scavenger hunt, with a topic for each day of the month. People can join in on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook or through her blog, simply by using the #photoadaychallenge hashtag.
With up to a million photos being uploaded each month and a bucketload of unique visitors to her blog, one woman has shown the power behind a clever idea and an engaging format.
3. You have to play the game
Like any social media platform, Instagram won’t deliver results if all you do is put photos out into the ether and don’t expect to have to engage with anyone or anything. Instagram is a unique method of connecting with other brands and consumers – so much so that regular ‘Instagram Meetings’ are held (in person) in various cities around the world.
As clichéd as it sounds, if you’re interested in the medium then the medium will be interested in you. So committing to have a presence on Instagram also means committing to exploring, connecting and engaging.
The Message is brought to you by Tick Yes – providing solutions for all your digital and content marketing needs.

Billion-dollar rip-off?

Facebook Camera is just Instagram by another name
You may have missed it with all the news that the Facebook float has flopped to such an extent that angry investors are suing the company for not disclosing accurate revenue estimates, but yesterday the beleaguered social network announced the launch of the new Facebook Camera.
According to Facebook’s own words, this is a ‘new mobile app that makes using Facebook photos faster and easier’. The features it promotes are seeing all your friends’ photos in one place, sharing multiple photos fast (!), the ability to add captions and new editing tools.
Now if that some of that sounds familiar, that’s because they are the same features already present on Instagram, which Facebook is in the process of buying for $1 billion.
Which begs the questions how can Facebook claim the app (available for Apple smartphones and tablets only at this stage) is ‘new’? And was it really worth paying all that money simply to be able to introduce existing features to a product that carries your name?
Brian Blau, research director at technology analysts Gartner, believes the answer is ‘yes’, telling the BBC: ‘Facebook has to move its business forward. By doing this [bringing out a ‘new’ product using established features], Facebook allows Instagram to remain intact while adopting some of its features to ensure its core service maintains its lead as the Internet’s most used photo-sharing site.’
My Blau may be right, but we’re betting this will give yet more people another reason to suddenly start questioning Mark Zuckerberg’s business acumen. And Instagram’s founders have been given another reason for laughing all the way to the bank.
The Message is brought to you by Tick Yes – providing solutions for all your digital and content marketing needs.

Billion-dollar baby

Facebook has just bought Instagram for $1 billion. Who says online content can’t be insanely profitable?
Instagram is hot. So hot that The Message wrote an article about it last month. And, in global tech/news terms, so hot that Facebook has just bought it for $1 billion.
Let’s just consider that for a moment… a billion bucks for an app that apparently took less than eight weeks to develop and is yet to turn a profit. Instagram’s popularity (and, presumably, price tag) even took its co-founder Kevin Systrom by surprise: ‘We went from literally a handful of users to the number one free photography app in a matter of hours.’
But it was that exponential growth that has clearly persuaded Facebook to part with so much money – and, indeed, to look outside its own creative prowess. ‘This is an important milestone for Facebook because it’s the first time we’ve ever acquired a product and company with so many users,’ Mark Zuckerberg posted on Facebook. ‘We don’t plan on doing many more of these, if any at all. But providing the best photo sharing experience is one reason why so many people love Facebook and we knew it would be worth bringing these two companies together.’
The billion-dollar buyout is the most spent on a profitless start-up since Google bought YouTube for $1.65 billion in 2006. But chances are, this will not be the last time astronomical sums are spent on online content or, in the case of Pinterest, platforms that enable the creation and sharing of online content.
As The Guardian reports, ‘The sale comes shortly after Zynga, the online games firm, paid $200 million for OMGPOP, maker of Draw Something, an online version of Pictionary that in less than two months has been downloaded more than 50 million times.’
As we’ve said before, there’s gold in them thar content hills!
The Message is brought to you by Tick Yes – providing solutions for all your digital and content marketing needs.