Tick Yes Blog

Tag - online content

Conscientious content

Why the ability of online content to reach a wider audience makes it a powerful force for change
Using social media as a means to spread anti-establishment messages grabbed the headlines last year – especially in the Middle East where platforms such as Twitter and YouTube were credited for the popular uprisings in Egypt, Tunisia, Libya and, still, Syria.
Inspired by the ability of online content to reach and stir the masses, three unlikely collaborators – an Iranian author (Amir), an Arab illustrator (Khali) and a Jewish publisher (Marc Siegel) – have combined to create a web comic satirising and critiquing the events that unfurled in Iran following the disputed 2009 elections.
The result is Zahra’s Paradise, a story centred on the search for a young protestor, Mehdi, who ‘has vanished in an extrajudicial twilight zone where habeas corpus is suspended’. The authors remain anonymous (for obvious reasons), but have created Mehdi’s story and the search for him by his mother, the eponymous Zahra, from a composite of the real people and stories told at the time and subsequently on social media.
Zahra’s Paradise has been published in hardback (and translated into a dozen languages), but as Amir tells the BBC in this fascinating video interview, the online version was not only able to bypass the censors more easily, but also reach a wider audience.
Which is, of course, the power of online content.
 
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Who do you believe?

Content is the new battleground in the perennial ‘he said, she said’ argument – as Shane Warne has proved 
Shane Warne is in the news again. Not for his cricketing exploits. Not for inexplicably managing to pull Liz Hurley. Not even for his increasingly bizarre skin colour. But for allegedly being involved with a road rage incident with a cyclist.
The incident took place in St Kilda last month when Warne was driving home. What happened exactly is a classic example of the age-old ‘he said, she said’ argument so loathed by primary school teachers yet loved by lawyers. Only this argument has taken a decidedly modern twist.
‘Warnie’ has taken to Twitter like a leg-spinner to a turning, foot-marked, fifth-day wicket. Much of his courtship with the gorgeous Ms Hurley took place – rather nauseatingly at times – on the micro-blogging site. So it was hardly a surprise when he unleashed the following, um, spin on events:

Warne followed it up with a complaint that the mainstream media had incorrectly reported the incident and had gone out of its way to make him look bad, as usual. He claimed the cyclist had grabbed hold of his car to hitch a ride, yelled at him and banged on his bonnet. Many tweeters, including soccer player Tim Cahill, A Current Affair host Tracey Grimshaw and ex-Neighbours starlet Holly Vallance tweeted their support for him and his calls for cyclists to display licence plates, like cars.
But then…
Out came the cyclist’s version of events. Web designer Matthew Hollingsworth not only disputed Warne’s story, claiming Warne deliberately drove his car into him – and posted this picture as proof.

Warne dismissed this (on Twitter, of course) the next day: ‘Have just seen bike riders version of events, please buddy – whatever ! I’m not going to get into a 5 year old tit for tat..,’
And so the story went quiet for a couple of weeks, until it was announced that Hollingsworth was launching a civil claim against Warne for $1575 to repair his bike, plus damages, interest and costs.
Interestingly, Hollingsworth’s lawyer, George Defteros, has said it was Warne’s taking to Twitter to make a private incident so very public that was behind the decision to sue, adding: ‘We want to put our version of events across really.’
Which means that unless there’s an out-of-court settlement, it will be up to a judge to decide who’s telling the truth. It could be that Warne was in the wrong and immediately tried to turn his public profile and 600,000+ Twitter followers to his advantage by immediately trying to absolve himself of responsibility – a move that may be about to backfire
Or it could be that cycler Hollingsworth was, as Warne tweeted, to blame and his court action is an attempt to get something – money, 15 minutes of fame – from a celebrity. He wouldn’t be the first person to have tried that.
Either way, the ongoing incident is proof that social media content not only makes the news, but it is becoming increasingly influential in how people think and judge issues.
So out of interest, whose version of events do you believe? An Australian icon and one of the greatest cricketers of all time, who also happens to be a man with a track record of getting into rather public hot water, or the cyclist whose character is largely unknown?
 
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What’s all the fuss about?

Is Gina Rinehart’s apparent attempt to buy her way onto the Fairfax board really such a big deal in the new content age?
The Australian media are worried and the federal government is terrified. The nation’s richest woman, mining magnate Gina Rinehart, has been snapping up shares in Fairfax Media, publishers of historic mastheads like The Sydney Morning Herald, The Age and The Australian Financial Review, as well as leading talkback radio station 2UE.
According to newspaper and television reports, Rinehart now owns 12.8 per cent of the 181-year-old company, making her the single biggest shareholder. She is apparently planning to purchase 14 per cent of Fairfax.
The news has been met with varying degrees of suspicion and alarm. As soon as Mrs Rinehart began her share-buying assault on the perceived bastion of liberal media, federal communications minister Stephen Conroy said the country needed stronger media ownership laws.
It is widely thought that Mrs Rinehart, who already owns a 10 per cent share in Channel 10, is interested in Fairfax – perhaps even to the point of purchasing a controlling stake – because of the political clout and influence it will provide her. After all, media ownership has worked wonders for Rupert Murdoch.
Murdoch’s News Corp controls about 70 per cent of Australian newspapers, with Fairfax and Kerry Stokes’ West Australian Newspapers accounting for the remainder. Some commentators believe that Rinehart would provide a fitting – and long overdue – challenge to the Murdoch empire. Others, though, are concerned that the $17 billion woman (whose resource holdings and future mining projects have her on track to becoming the richest person in the world) is cut from the same right-wing cloth as the man satirical magazine Private Eye delights in calling ‘the Dirty Digger’.
And there’s the rub that is presumably making the government nervous. As someone whose considerable fortune lies in mining, Gina Rinehart is, not surprisingly, implacably opposed to the ALP’s mining tax. From a financial standpoint, the ABC has reported that it is cheaper for her to buy up Fairfax than it is to pay the tax. Indeed, her ‘raid’ on Fairfax came a day after the publisher’s chairman (for now, anyway), Roger Corbett, backed the tax as ‘payback’ for the boom states of Western Australia (Rinehart’s home) and Queensland.
The changing face of content
So Rinehart’s recent moves raise the possibility – likelihood, even – that there will be no media outlet in Australia (with the possible exception of the ABC) that is editorially opposed to the mining tax. Which means the chances of the Mineral Resource Rent Tax (to give it its proper name) lasting, if it is even able to pass through the Senate, are slim.
Or does it?
Everyone accepts that the media landscape has changed and is continuing to evolve. The Internet and the social media child it spawned has led to an irrevocable decline in newspaper readership (by 6.4 per cent year on year, according to some figures) and, crucially, advertising revenue. Traditional publishers are adopting different ways of addressing this. News Corp is now charging for people to read its articles online, while Fairfax has just announced a subscription service for the SMH (via computer or tablet). The hopeful hook is the fact that it looks just like the printed version.
The situation is so dire that, when it comes to profitability, the jewel in the Fairfax crown is not the Herald or the Age or even the Fin Review. It is a New Zealand online auction house called Trade Me.
In 10 years, the Net has effectively killed traditional newspapers as profitable operations. It is not too big a stretch of the imagination to think that in another decade, the lingering influence of publishers like News Corp and Fairfax will be similarly obsolete.
It has been well documented that people’s news habits are changing. Generation Y and its adolescent successor are already favouring peer-recommended titbits as the influence of the individual surpasses that of the publishing entity. Facebook, Twitter and blogs are not only moving the goalposts but playing origami with them, transforming online and digital content into something wonderfully unstructured and uncontrolled.
Of course, politicians aren’t known for long-term thinking. When minds are controlled by the news cycle (which in itself has been transformed by the immediacy of online and social media content), when the furthest into the future anyone can see is the next election, Gina Rinehart’s shopping expedition – and the possible agenda behind it – is an obvious cause for concern.
But in the big picture of the new content age, not so much…
 
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Fry’s owns Sam Kekovich

When it comes to viral content, a clever parody works wonders…
Most people are familiar with Sam Kekovich, Australia’s ‘Lambassador’, and his rant-style TV commercials promoting the meat.
Well, in a stroke of viral marketing genius, Fry’s Vegetarian released an Australia Day parody of the lamb advertisements on YouTube. With over 25,000 views in less than a week, the video is not only clever, but very funny. Take a look…

 
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Has Twitter sold out free speech?

Social media and online content has, largely, been censorship free. But all that is now changing…
News emerging from Twitter HQ in San Francisco has social activists and free-speech advocates nervous. The micro-blog site has recently announced that it can – and will – block tweets in countries if legally compelled to do so by that country’s government. Which means if a government passes a law, or issues a directive, that makes tweeting about certain issues or events illegal, those tweets will be removed from the feed.
Given the role Twitter played in last year’s ‘Arab Spring’, when social media-fuelled uprisings brought about regime change in a number of Middle East countries, there are concerns that Twitter is about to remove a significant weapon from the people power arsenal: ‘Is it safe to say that Twitter is selling us out?’ asked Egyptian activist Mahmoud Salem, according to the Los Angeles Times.
The irony in all this is that Twitter has long positioned itself as a champion of free speech. Its CEO, Dick Costolo, has even called it ‘the free speech wing of the free speech party’. The company itself has promised to be as transparent as possible and to only remove tweets when legally required to do so (and only then after internal review). Any removed tweets will still be visible on Twitter outside the country concerned and, says the Los Angeles Times, ‘will share the removal requests on the Chilling Effects website, which advocates for internet freedom and tracks take-down notices.’
It may be that people are getting concerned over nothing; that Twitter will continue to be a positive force for social change. On the other hand, cynics can point to the recent purchase of a three per cent stake by Saudi prince Alwaleed bin Talal and question whether Twitter’s apparent shift is completely coincidental.
Twitter’s stated goal is to grow to a billion users (from the current 100 million). Is free speech compatible with that ambition?
 
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2011: The year in pieces

Online content keeps upping the ante when it comes to creativity with a message
We’ve already brought you our review of the year, but one of the great things about online content is that provides so much opportunity for so much creativity from so many sources. YouTube is awash with video parodies featuring LEGO ‘characters’, but recreating key events from 2011 – from the royal wedding to the Occupy protests and Rupert Murdoch’s pie in the face – takes social commentary-cum- block art to a whole different level. You can check out the best of the best here…
 
 
 
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CONTENT REVIEW: ‘Anonymous’

It is difficult not to compare this film to Shakespeare in Love, and in many ways Anonymous suffers as a result.
While the plot is busy being torn apart by history and literature buffs alike on social media, that wasn’t the problem. In fact, it was well thought-out and engaging. Come to think of it, with the exception of Shakespeare himself, the characters were as well. Rhys Ifans played a powerfully intense Edward de Vere (the Earl of Oxford), and Vanessa Redgrave was unsurprisingly brilliant as Queen Elizabeth.
There is unrequited love, mystique, intrigue and a fair dose of swashbuckling action. The special effects were spectacular, which is unsurprising as this is clearly where director Roland Emmerich (the man who brought us such films as Independence Day, 2012 and The Patriot) is most comfortable.
And perhaps this is where Anonymous comes unstuck. People who go to see a film about Shakespeare generally want to revel in the veiled references, the parallel storylines and the clever jokes. After all, this is what Shakespeare (or de Vere, or whoever else is thought to have written the works) did so well.
The film isn’t about Shakespeare the man, it is about the work that is his legacy. This, more than ever, should have been reason to let the magic of those works craft and shape the story. Sure, present your conspiracy theory, but be clever. Use the gifts of language and humour and weave them into your tale, and you’ll have a much better time convincing people that you know about Shakespeare – whoever he was.
 
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The write stuff

Does authorship matter in the age of online content? If you’re a guy it does, apparently…
Back in the haze of history, in a time before social media and online and digital content (an age otherwise known as the 1980s), one of the original girl bands, Bananarama, released a song called It Ain’t What You Do (It’s the Way That You Do It). To say it was awful is perhaps a little unkind, but if you feel like a giggle (and/or a trip down memory lane) you can see it here.
But change the lyrics slightly and you actually have a blueprint for creating content. See, it ain’t what you say, it’s the way that you say it. And it seems there is even a psychological basis for this.
In a study soon to be published in the Computers and Human Behaviours Journal, psychologist Rebecca Brand has discovered something that’s sure to send any, um, ‘aesthetically challenged’ gentlemen looking for love into despair.
Apparently women are able to tell whether a man looks more like Michelangelo’s David or Munch’s Scream without ever clapping eyes on a profile picture. How? By the way they write. So now, the anonymity afforded by a computer screen is no longer a balm for the cruel sting of rejection based on looks.
Ouch!
The study asked 50 women to analyse the online dating profiles (without pictures) of 100 men between the ages of 22 and 25, and rate them in order of how attractive they thought they were based on what – and how – they had written. They were then asked to judge how attractive they thought the photos (without attached profiles) of the 100 men were, and the results were found to correlate.
Does this mean that women really have a sixth sense for analysing the writing styles of attractive men? Or could it be that more physically attractive men exude more confidence in their writing? On the other hand, surely someone whose interests include ‘rock-climbing, running and working out’ has a better shot at being a 10-out-of-10 hottie than a guy with a passion for butterfly collecting.
Identity crisis?
A 50-sample survey is, of course, hardly conclusive. But it does raise some interesting issues about the attractiveness of online content. Have boring content, and you, your brand and anything else you want to promote will be dismissed as boring. But make it exciting and sexy and that’s how you’ll be perceived. In the online, digital and social media world, it doesn’t matter who does the writing, but that content has to sparkle if it’s going to attract fans, followers or customers.
Authorship is essentially irrelevant (egos aside). It’s the quality of content that counts. Which brings us rather neatly to Anonymous, a new film that rehashes that old chestnut about whether Shakespeare wrote his plays.
The film itself is fun enough, and with the exception of a few ‘creative’ takes on the facts of history (this is, after all, a film by the man behind The Patriot, Independence Day and the abominable 2012), offers a believable enough premise – assuming you can buy Shakespeare as a semi-illiterate drunkard hired to take credit for the work of Edward de Vere, the Earl of Oxford, played by Rhys Ifans.
But what makes Anonymous intriguing is the fact that the importance of authorship sparks enough mystery and debate to fill several books and theses – and now the big screen.
Anonymous is essentially telling a story about the importance of content not just for content’s sake, but as a conduit for identity. Most people agree that whoever wrote Hamlet, King Lear, Twelfth Night and all the rest of them was a genius, but that doesn’t seem to be enough. The filmmakers (and the plethora of people who have taken to social media to debate the issue) are essentially buying into the argument that authorship matters more than the content itself.
However, as the survey results show, that certainly isn’t the case in the online world. There, the content shapes the image, not the other way around. After all, as Shakespeare (whoever he was) put it: ‘What’s in a name? That we call a rose, by any other name would smell as sweet.’
 
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CONTENT MARKETING: Why quality beats quantity

Cost is no longer a barrier to content promotion and dissemination. But for it to work, people still have to want to see it
In the world of content production, and in particular with content marketing, something that frequently holds people back is the notion that good content needs a big budget. This is hardly new. It’s based on decades – centuries, in fact – of cost being the major barrier to creating or disseminating quality content.
Before the arrival of the printing press, the only way to circulate whatever content you’d created – be it a theory, or a painting, or a poem – was to either find a rich benefactor (luck) or to jump on a horse (cost), ride to neighbouring towns (cost) and spend your time gathering crowds and spreading the message (cost). For Joe Medieval, who had potatoes to plant and wenches to woo, time was too valuable a thing to waste on such trivial pursuits.
Of course, after the printing press and again after the Industrial Revolution, there were more creative and practical ways to share your content with the world, but the cost of having it duplicated and disseminated was so prohibitive that only a small fraction of the population could ever hope for that happy situation to eventuate.
Anyone can create content, but few can do it well
Moving forward to modern society, it is still only very recently that access to publishing has become available to anyone with a laptop and a basic understanding of the Internet. Prior to blogging, digital cameras and recording, MP3s and free movie-editing software, cost was still the main obstacle to successful content.
Now, throughout history there are examples of the exceptions that prove the rule – of poor people who have made successful films and written brilliant novels and plays and painted masterpieces. But for all the protestations of ‘I worked my way to the top!’ and ‘Rung by rung I climbed the ladder of success!’, the uniting and often unspoken factor in each of these rags-to-riches success stories was that they shared in a healthy dose of luck.
This is not to undermine the extraordinary talent of these people, because it is unquestionable they had it in spades. But because of the prohibitive cost of publishing a book or making a film or recording an album in the past, it was necessary for their talent to be spotted first by someone else who could put up the funds required to either create the masterpiece, or have it reproduced, or distribute it.
To a degree, top-level success still requires that sort of backing to support the talent. Justin Bieber may have been discovered on YouTube, but it still took a savvy marketing team with plenty of money behind them to turn him into a global phenomenon.
Social media cuts out the middleman
Yet the Biebster, like the Arctic Monkeys before him, is proof that a noticeable shift is now occurring. Individuals are now able to kickstart their careers by producing and promoting themselves through the content they upload for free. At the other end of the scale, some of the biggest bands in the world – Radiohead, for example – are already cutting ties with their record companies and marketing themselves directly to their fans through the Internet and social media.
But this also means the marketplace is becoming more crowded as more and more people jump on the DIY bandwagon. In the case of artists, talent keeps people coming back for more. In the case of other forms of online content, it will still be the quality of that content that sells it and makes it stand out from the crowd.
 
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The truth shall set you free

Online content lets marketers tell the truth. But are they brave enough to do that?
In marketing – in fact, in the entire media industry – much of what people do is smoke and mirrors. But there’s a shift afoot. What if – drum roll, please – they just told… the truth?
Hear that? That’s the sound of us being laughed out of marketing land.
But whether the residents of said marketing land like it or not, social media and online content has brought the marketing and advertising industry into a far more truthful light. Consumer reviews, Facebook brand pages and an ever-increasing and almighty army of truth-telling bloggers are contributing to marketers and advertisers being held accountable for what we say.
Talking to a consumer – and, importantly, having a consumer talk back – makes it far harder to tell porkies. It’s kind of like trying to boast about your achievements with your big brother in the room. Stray too far from the truth and he’ll interject with a hearty ‘BullS**T!’ and you’ll look like a bit of a tool in front of your friends.
Conversely, it will make you more determined to go out and prove him wrong by achieving the things you’d been boasting about earlier. And so social media and engagement with consumers helps brands walk the talk. Being able to listen and to change when a customer picks up on the strong smell of bovine manure should be looked on as an opportunity rather than a hindrance by marketers. And while there’ll always be spin, social media allows for the injection of some serious substance to back it up.
So in the vein of honest advertising, we’d like to share with you some brilliant and hilarious artwork from Viktor Hertz, a freelance graphic designer from Sweden.
Why? Because it fits with the message of The Message that if you can create engaging, intelligent content that makes people laugh or think or that challenges them, and wrap it up in a package they already understand and relate to – like a magazine – then you stand a very good chance of keeping them coming back for more.
If anything, this will probably boost traffic to YouTube…

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
We all know this is bang on the money…

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
And our favourite…

 
 
 
 

 
 
 
To check out more of Viktor’s ‘honest logos’ head here. The truth, it seems, is out there in more ways than one…
 
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