Tick Yes Blog

Tag - Technology

Blessed are the tweeters

Even the Vatican is embracing social media and content marketing
Forget life imitating art, here we have a classic case of life imitating The Message. In January 2012, in a post called iBelieve, we wrote: ‘If organised religion wants to live past this generation, it has to make like every other big business and stay visible.’
Then a couple of months later, in a post imaginatively titled iBelieve (part 2), we reported that ‘the spread of social media-savvy religion-related content has reached, well, biblical proportions’.
And now, with a well-known religious festival almost upon us, it seems entirely appropriate that the head of the Roman Catholic Church, Pope Benedict XVI, has taken to Twitter (as @pontifex). According to the Vatican, the Pope will be using the social media microblog to tweet ‘pearls of wisdom’ in eight languages, answering questions sent to him regarding matters of faith.
‘The Pope’s presence on Twitter is a concrete expression of his conviction that the Church must be present in the digital arena,’ the Vatican says. Which shows that even the 2000-year-old Catholic movement understands how social media and content marketing can be a massive benefit in the digital age.
At time of writing, the papal twitter account has 501,936 followers. Although that figure is a mere fraction of the planet’s 1.2 billion Catholics, it is a remarkable number considering Pope Benedict has yet to send a single tweet. Now, cynics may call that blind faith, but in fairness the Vatican has said the account won’t be used until just before Christmas.
Still, it will be interesting to see whether the Church fully embraces social media to the extent some have done. Speaking personally, we can’t wait to see the Instagram images of the pontiff’s Christmas dinner…
 
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From Frenzy to failure

Why a content marketing campaign is only as good as the technology behind it
Poor Click Frenzy. Billed as Australia’s answer to the US’s Cyber Monday and hyped as the saviour of the Australian retail industry (by embracing the possibilities of e-tail), it was meant to be launched with a bang at 7pm last night. Instead, ‘the sale that stops the nation’ failed miserably due to serious technical issues that caused the site to go into meltdown, meaning would-be shoppers were only able to log on three hours into the planned 24-hour period.
Organisers had assured everyone that the site could cope with the traffic, but clearly that wasn’t the case. And, coming on the heels of similar problems for David Jones (which had eschewed Click Frenzy in favour of launching its own online sale extravaganza), it simply served to reinforce the impression that Australian retail is lagging behind the rest of the world because it has not yet got to grips with the Internet.
As Steve Ogden-Barned, a retail industry fellow at Deakin University told the Sydney Morning Herald, last night’s events were ‘an embarrassment’ for Aussie retailers ‘who treated online shopping as an afterthought’:
‘They say they are worried about losing sales offshore but many of the bigger players have never really taken this channel seriously… this just proves it.’
A soon-to-be released White Paper from Tick Yes addresses those very issues – and explains how retailers can use social media and online content to turn things around. And in the meantime, at least last night’s debacle has created some entertaining tweets and memes about the transition from #clickfrenzy to #clickfail…

 

 

 

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Safe sext

A new app could stop risqué content from coming back to haunt its creators
Ask Kim Kardashian, Paris Hilton or Colin Farrell – leaving video or pictorial evidence of your naked body with a scorned lover generally ends up with far more people than said scorned lover being able to access the material.
Of course, no one intentionally leaves footage or photos with a scorned lover – they send it to devoted, starry-eyed paramours who would never, ever betray them. And then they do. Because the sad fact is that behind every devoted partner, there is a scorned lover waiting to happen; and with every sexy pic or video you send, you run the risk of that video being seen by everyone from your boss to your parents to your next-door neighbour.
While public nudity may have ultimately aided the careers (and we use the term loosely) of the aforementioned celebs, unwanted exposure can have devastating results on the lives of mere mortals who make the same mistake. Just a few weeks ago Canadian teenager Amanda Todd took her own life after years of stalking and bullying, spawned by a decision to ‘flash’ for a webcam when she was 12 years old.
A new app could be set to change the potentially negative repercussions of images that should best not be kept on file. SnapChat is a photo-texting app that can be used to send images that self-destruct after an allocated number of seconds. While it’s far from fool-proof (recipients can still take a quick sneaky screenshot of the pic while it’s on their screen, although the app will alert you if this happens), it is at least a safety measure to be put in place for photos that are best left… impermanent.
While the app developers insist it is not a ‘sexting’ service (using the admittedly valid argument that a steamy photo that lasts just three seconds doesn’t really fulfil its purpose), chances are that the majority of people drawn to it will think of it as exactly that. But if that stops a few creeps having access to ill-advised photos after the flame of love has been extinguished, it can’t be a bad thing.
 
The Message is brought to you by Tick Yes – providing solutions for all your digital and content marketing needs.

 

21st century fire fighting

Can content delivered through an app save lives this bushfire season?
With Hurricane Sandy currently occupying the world’s attention as it dances destructively across the United States, it is easy to overlook that, here in Australia, we are entering the bushfire danger season.
Authorities have already been experimenting with using social media and online content to keep people informed if/when natural disasters strike (with, it has to be said, varying degrees of success). But the new FireReady app from the Victoria Country Fire Authority’s is the most advanced attempt to turn technology into a fire-fighting, lifesaving tool yet.
Already downloaded by 70,000 users, it provides notifications of fire dangers and lets users photograph bushfire activity (with GPS coordinates and time stamp) and submit it to authorities. It’s a kind of crowd-sourcing (or ‘community intelligence gathering’ as the CFA’s digital media manager, Martin Anderson, puts it) that, hopefully, prevents the sort of ‘information vacuum’ that cost lives during Black Saturday in 2009 occurring.
Granted, this crucial service is not presented in as entertaining away as Canada’s ‘zombie preparedness week‘, but if it does what it’s meant to, that’s all that matters.
 
The Message is brought to you by Tick Yes – providing solutions for all your digital and content marketing needs.

Stay tuned

How will Xbox Music fare in the already crowded world of music subscription services?
Despite the fact that we’re living in the age of illegal downloads – music and video alike – it seems there is definitely still gold in them thar music subscription services (of the legal kind), with Microsoft the latest player to enter this increasingly crowded market.
Xbox Music has just been unveiled, but don’t let the name fool you, because although currently only available to the 66 million-odd (as opposed to the 66 million odd) Xbox 360 users, from next week (26 October, to be precise, when Windows 8 operating system is unleashed on the world), the streaming music service will be launched on mobiles, tablets and PCs.
In fact, the Cloud-powered service will be the default music player for Windows 8, with Microsoft confirming that Xbox Music apps will also be available for Windows Phone 8 and, later, Android and Apple. Which of course means Microsoft is not only angling for a slice of the same musical pie as Spotify, Pandora and MOG, but also the likes of Google Play Store and, the big one, iTunes.
Cleverly, Xbox Music will be available at three levels (and prices). As the Sydney Morning Herald reports:

Option 1: ‘A free, advertising-supported version will allow users to stream music to their Windows 8 PCs and Windows RT tablets. An audio ad will interrupt playback every 15 minutes in the free version of the software. Streaming will be unlimited for the first six months, and a limit applied thereafter.’
Option 2: ‘For $11.99 a month, users will get ad-free, unlimited offline playback of music on a PC, tablet, mobile and Xbox 360. It includes access to music videos on the Xbox 360.’
Option 3: ‘A “download to own” option, which tries to claim some of Apple’s iTunes market share, allows users to buy tracks and albums via the Xbox Music Store.

In fact, Microsoft may already have the jump on Apple – and how long has it been since it was able to say that? If the software giant is to be believed, it has a catalogue of 30 million songs, making it the biggest of the lot. By contrast, Apple says it has 26 million in its catalogue.
‘Our aspirations for Xbox Music are big – to address the multiple ways that people are listening to music, then put those all in one easy-to-use and beautifully curated place,’ said Scott Porter, principal program manager for Xbox Music.
‘Music is a deeply, emotionally connected topic for people everywhere. People’s memories and special moments are always associated with music,’ added Yusuf Mehdi, vice-president of Microsoft’s interactive entertainment business marketing and strategy. ‘It’s a powerful area because of that, and I’m excited that we’re going to be able to bring that to life in our product.’
Or to put it a different way: ‘We’re going to make those bastards dance to our tune for a change’. Stay tuned…
 
The Message is brought to you by Tick Yes – providing solutions for all your digital and content marketing needs.
 

Enough already!

This time around, it looks like Barack Obama’s social media strategy could backfire
There is a widespread perception that Barack Obama owes his presidential victory in 2008 to a skilled, concerted social media campaign. The Message has already reported how the president’s team plan to unleash the ‘Holy Grail’ of digital campaigning.
Only, it turns out that said Grail may be more of a chipped, stained coffee mug found lurking in the dusty, forgotten recesses of the office kitchen…
A BBC report reveals that Team Obama has embarked on a massive Facebook campaign. At first glance, it would seem it has been successful, with the number of likes increasing by a million a day, compared with about 30,000 a day in recent weeks. (At time of writing, 30,680,559 people like the president, while 3,200,317 are talking about him).
Those are the sorts of numbers most brand CEOs and social media content marketers would happily dance naked around the Washington Monument to receive, and yet not only do they not tell the whole story, but they also may be coming at a White House-costing price.
Aggressive advertising
The Obama campaign has paid for ‘Sponsored Stories’ to appear in some users’ Facebook news feeds. The kicker, though, is that they appeal regardless of whether the recipient wants them or not. And therein lies the problem.
Users have taken to social media to express their irritation at being bombarded in such a way, with comments including:

‘Why is Barack Obama on my Facebook newsfeed?’
‘I’m getting really sick of those Obama ads sponsored on my Facebook page’
‘Quit trying to promote yourself on my Facebook and Twitter feeds. I never “liked” or “followed” you’ (Posted on Obama’s Twitter account)

It comes at a time when both Obama and his Republican opponent Mitt Romney are ramping up their online efforts. Both have taken to social media to present themselves to voters and while Romney stumbled initially, his online presence (like his performance in the recent presidential debate, which he was widely acknowledged to have ‘won’) has become increasingly confident.
From posting cutesy family shots on Instagram to revealing his song list on Spotify, Romney (unlike John McCain four years ago) has more than matched Obama’s every social media move. That includes plastering social media – and even video games – with advertising.
When content marketing backfires
Clearly, both candidates believe online ubiquity will help them win the race. However, research conducted by the University of Pennsylvania suggests otherwise.
The university’s School of Communications surveyed 1503 Internet-using US adults. The findings were significant, with 86 per cent saying they did not want to receive tailored political messages, and 70 per cent saying that seeing ads from a candidate would make them less likely to vote for that candidate.
‘The findings represent a national statement of concern,’ Professor Joseph Turow, lead researcher on the study, told the BBC.
‘We have a major attitudinal tug of war – the public’s emphatic and broad rejection of tailored political ads pulling against political campaigns’ growing adoption of tailored political advertising without disclosing when they are using individuals’ information and how.’
It would seem that both presidential candidates have broken the golden rules of content marketing – that people don’t want to be sold to, they want to be engaged with through good use of content.
Four years ago, Team Obama seemed to understand that. Losing sight of it this time around could well cost them the election.
 
The Message is brought to you by Tick Yes – providing solutions for all your digital and content marketing needs.

The YouTube revolution

YouTube is changing the way television works – and is well placed to become the ultimate content provider
In just 11 years, YouTube has gone from novelty video-sharing site to serious media player. Not content with establishing itself as a legitimate alternative to mainstream television news, the Google-owned social media juggernaut is about to change the way television itself works.
In October last year, YouTube debuted its Original Channel in the US. Billed as ‘awesome content from the stars of music, TV, film, and sports, plus the world’s most innovative media brands’, it is effectively content created specifically for YouTube. Not content that is premiered elsewhere and then finds its way onto YouTube. But content that exists solely on YouTube.
It is a content model that has the potential to be a game-changer. In fact, Google is betting it can become a game-winner by extending the project to the largest European markets – France, Germany and the UK.
In all, 60 new channels will be available, all featuring broadcast-quality content from top producers including ITN and Hat Trick Productions. It means such high-profile TV stars as Jamie Oliver will now have a dedicated home on YouTube thanks to channels like the Jamie Oliver Food Channel.
Original content the key
‘The insight for us was that though some partners were making successful businesses out of creating content on YouTube, it was not happening at the scale or the pace that we would love to see it happening, or as widely in terms of genre,’ Ben McOwen Wilson, director of YouTube for Europe, the Middle East and Africa, told the Guardian.
‘[Original Channels] is accelerating that, jumpstarting it, to get more partners working with us to create original content for the platform.’
The Guardian reports that YouTube is offering an advance to channels taking part, and will offer them a share of revenue once this is recouped. McOwen Wilson said YouTube had seen a huge number of pitches for the new channels, but wanted content that exploited YouTube’s interactivity and could respond to comments and shares among viewers, rather than lengthy pre-written series.
‘It is not a dumping ground. Some of these ideas couldn’t be done on traditional television, which couldn’t afford the specificity of the audience or the interactivity,’ he said.
Such a project doesn’t come cheap. The US launch of 100 channels, featuring content from CNN, MTV and ESPN, reportedly required an investment of $100 million from Google. A year on and YouTube is claiming 20 of those channels now generate more than a million views a week, with music channel The Warner Sound easily the most popular.
McOwen Wilson said YouTube is looking to expand Original Channels to other markets, including the rest of Europe and Asia. Stay tuned, Australia…
 
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Content’s last rites

Is this the proof that Blackberry has finally run out of juice? 
There’s a great line in the WW1-set fourth Blackadder series, when Stephen Fry’s mad (on the one hand; insightful and ruthlessly pragmatic on the other) British general says: ‘If nothing else works, a total pig-headed unwillingness to look facts in the face will see us through’. Cruel as it may be, it’s a line that increasingly springs to mind whenever Blackberry makes the news.
Once the darling of seriously important people (remember when Barack Obama, before getting elected four years ago, famously said he was ‘addicted’ to his?), it has been left limping along in the must-have mobile stakes by the various other Smartphone offerings, led by Apple and Samsung.
In addition, it hasn’t been helped by a content marketing campaign that, well, has left rather a lot to be desired.
And you can’t help wondering whether Blackberry’s latest stunt – a cheesy video in which RIM (Blackberry’s parent company) execs declare their love, devotion and thanks to those developers who have bothered to make apps for the phone – is nothing more than that ‘pig-headed unwillingness to look facts in the face’.
On the one hand, it’s nice that Blackberry recognises the work that goes into making apps. It’s also really good relationship marketing. On the other, it’s a rather desperate plea (complete with bribe – Blackberry is offering to pay app developers up to US$9000 to work with them) to give the Blackberry 10 a go.
Maybe you can decide which it really is:

 
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Google pioneers underwater content

The search giant boldly goes where no online mapping service has gone before…
Google’s Street View has long made pretty compelling content. Whether you use it to get a clearer idea of a destination than any ordinary road atlas could give, or to take a trip down a virtual memory lane to show your kids the house you grew up in on the other side of the world, Street View provides the perfect combination of important information and timewasting opportunities.
So successful has it been that others have got in on the act, eager for their slice of the real-world-view pie. That Google has, so far, remained one step ahead of the competition owes much to its willingness to innovate. And innovations don’t come much more… well, innovative than taking your cameras underwater and providing Street View-type images of some of the world’s great coral reefs.
‘We want to be a comprehensive source for imagery that lets anyone explore anywhere,’ Jenifer Foulkes, Google’s ocean programme manager, told the BBC. ‘This is just the next step to take users underwater and give them the experience of an area that most people have not been to – seeing sea turtles, seeing manta rays, crazy pencil urchins and beautiful fish.’
But as well as being an effective PR exercise and showcase for Google’s ability to develop groundbreaking (and, indeed, ocean-breaking new technology), the underwater mapping serves an important purpose in recording these amazing, but threatened areas for future generations.
Among the reefs mapped is Australia’s own Great Barrier Reef, around Heron Island, Lady Elliot Island and Wilson Island – and it looks a little something like this…

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Cutting content

Meow! Samsung stings Apple fans… again!
The Samsung/Apple feud has once again spilled out of the courtroom and into Samsung’s advertising campaign, with the latest Samsung commercial ridiculing (and cashing in on) the hype over the release of the iPhone 5. In the few days since its release it has already had over 13 million views on YouTube, and there are definitely some hearty LOLs in it for those who have followed the development of both brands’ products over the last few years – or, for that matter, anyone who’s ever seen a line around the block at an Apple store.

The commercial is funny, sure, but more importantly it hits Apple consumers right where it hurts… their image. The technorati love to through words like ‘intuitive’ and ‘form and function’ around, but admitting that you’ve been brainwashed by the cult of Apple is not an easy thing.
If Apple’s image suffered a hit in the ‘cool’ department, there is little doubt that consumers would start flocking to other products. Whether Samsung can achieve that hit remains to be seen, but the truth of the commercial obviously resonates – which is why it’s being shared around like a batch of office birthday cupcakes.
 
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