Category Archives: Social Media

Press ‘X’ to Add a Friend: Gaming as the New Social Space

There is an event going on that you most likely don’t know about – and you probably wouldn’t care about it if you did.

On the popular social streaming site, Twitch.tv, 50,000 gamers are trying to complete a Gameboy video game from 1998. “Twitch Plays Pokémon” is either an insane experiment, or the next evolution in social media. Thanks to some clever programming, someone has modified a virtual version of Pokémon Red to accept the input commands of over 50,000 simultaneous users. This exercise in group gaming has proven that even the simplest tasks can be nearly impossible when mass coordination is required.

It’s also a unique case study showing one potential future for the social media industry. Can you imagine having 50,000 people spending a week staring at your brand? This is gamification on a massive scale. Each of these users is wholly engaged in their activity. Memes and fan communities numbering in the tens of thousands have sprung up overnight. Gamers who weren’t alive when Pokémon Red was released are following the progress as if it was the latest FOX reality show. Unfortunately for the three brands that stand to profit from this phenomenon – Game Freak, Nintendo, and Twitch – only one is actually seeing any gains. Twitch is seeing active user counts (and ad views) that haven’t been matched since the DotA 2 International Tournament last year.
In fact, if Nintendo knew the stream was happening, they’d likely actively fight to have it shut down.

Of course, it’s easy for game and tech companies to fall into these types of social success. We’ve already written about the ties between social media and console gaming (and those are getting even closer all the time). In the near future, however, it isn’t hard to imagine this kind of gamification extending beyond the Sonys (Sonies?) and Microsofts of the world.

Nearly every social media junkie online is writing about the coming social cataclysm, when the “Big Four” networks fall out of favor and the new icons of social are brought to power. Some believe content curation platforms like Twitch are the future; others turn to niche networks like Wiser and Kaboodle.

There’s only one thing we can agree on: Change is coming, and it’s time for big brands to stop relying on Facebook.

Klout’s Komeback

The last time we wrote about Klout, we criticized (alongside many other outlets) the tool for failing to provide its advertised service. For those of you that missed the first blog, here is a brief synopsis: One of the earliest and longest-lasting challenges of social media is proving ROI – return on investment. Klout sought to solve that problem by creating the ‘Klout Score,’ a number between 1 and 100 that ranks your social media profile based on the supposed influence those profiles have. The biggest fault in this system was in its hyper-dependency on Twitter, and its inability to recognize context. Automated accounts tweeting links to Amazon.com could have the same Klout Score as a major news outlet, as long as they had enough followers.

Klout may have been all but forgotten, until last week, when the social tool everyone loves to hate rose from the grave with a brand new look.

Rebranded as a content-creation platform, Klout now actively seeks ways to improve your content and, by proxy, your Klout Score. Upon logging in to the new platform, users are asked to select a number of pre-defined areas of expertise, which Klout uses to rank and judge your influence. A user with 90 Klout in ‘social media’ and one with 90 Klout in ‘celebrity relationships’ will no longer be considered equally influential. Much more importantly, the tool will use your chosen fields of expertise to provide a newsfeed of relevant and trending content that your audience may be interested in. This gives social media newbies a shortcut to hot links to share, and gives brands an idea of possible conversation topics your consumer followers may want to see you comment on.

Will this complete overhaul be enough to win Klout a fanbase outside of the existing devotees? We think it just might be. Klout is finally delivering on a promise they made years ago: Make social media influence simple. They’re attempting to make it easier to enter the social space, and to find out how brands and users alike can make an impact. That effort – if nothing else – is admirable.

Facebook Friends Startup Company, Branch.

The spinning minds at Facebook in Northern California have officially teamed up with the innovative thinkers at the rapidly growing startup known as Branch, in New York City. Branch is a social startup with a twin site called Potluck. These two sites monitor, engage, connect and ignite unique thought and conversations between users across the social-sphere. The idea of creating and, more importantly, maintaining an intellectual community of users with similar interests is an extremely powerful tool – if you know how to use it.

Facebook currently reports a total of 1.9 billion active monthly users. So where do they go from here? What service do they have planned to continue that growth into the future? Something where users can gain insightful information about their daily lives; be it health, travel, education, world news, politics and local events could be just around the corner. That is what the Branch team intends to do following Facebook’s supposed 15 million dollar ‘acqui—hire.’ Branch professionals will manage a portion of Facebook centered around developing Facebook’s conversations group, a service aimed at helping people connect based on their interests.

Pushing the envelope one more step, connectivity and topical engagements will go far beyond the best Steakhouse in SoHo or how to stay gluten free. These particular engagements could become a forum where community managers can enter the social sphere and really learn how their product or service is being taken in by the average person.

The doors have opened for “users to connect, and engage in meaningful exchanges based on interests”, according to Branch co-founder, Josh Miller. While on vacation in Japan, Josh received word that the news would be released during his trip and so he did what anyone else would do, proving exactly why he made the acquisition deal that he did… he updated his Facebook status.

Facebook Status

Bar Tabs and Bluetooth

Restaurants have a long history of early adoption when it comes to apps and social channels. It makes sense that an industry with razor-thin margins and stiff competition would do whatever it takes to get whatever edge they can. WillCall, a brand-new app from a group of designers, coders, and music junkies in San Fransisco, hopes to capitalize on that. The app allows consumers at large and small live music venues to order and purchase bar drinks without leaving the show floor.

In theory, most income at these venues comes from bar sales. WillCall claims they can boost bar sales by giving concertgoers a chance to buy drinks without missing songs standing at the bar.

At the moment, the app is still in an early access phase, with only a few select venues in San Fransisco and New York participating in the program. If successful, the app could inspire a new breed of mobile apps for bars, restaurants, and live music houses across the nation. Imagine a world with no waiters – you just place your order on your iPad and wait for the kitchen to send it out. Maybe they can pair up with Amazon’s ill-fated drone program and drop your bacon and eggs right on the table.

Or maybe not.

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Instagram Direct: The most exclusive photo sharing app

This past Thursday, December 12th, smartphone users around the world we’re notified about an update on their Instagram app. What could it be? A new filter, new tagging techniques or maybe a new format. But what they found was surprising to some; that the newest Instagram update was the ability to Direct Message users through the application.

Instagram Direct is the newest way to share photos and videos with your friends. A criticism of the public forum, is that not every moment is right to be shared with every follower you have.  Some things are special, intimate and unique to a single users or group of friends or family. With Instagram Direct, users can now take that special moment and share it with a select group of people or one special individual.

Users have the option to choose only one friend to share the post with or a group of people, starting an exclusive chat in the direct message folder. The Instagram community has skyrocketed since its initial launch three years ago with over 150 million users sharing photos and videos to hundreds and thousands of followers.

Rumor has it, that the idea of an Instagram Direct came from creators seeing the enormous power of Snapchat as its users have beaten out Facebook and Instagram for the amount of photos it sees daily. Either way we are glad they enabled it and can’t wait to see what it does for the world of photography in the future. For more, check out the Instagram release post made last week. http://bit.ly/Jt2W3W

“Story Bumping” and what it means for your brand’s Facebook strategy

Facebook has recently taken steps to provide more transparency around the way that their platform works. These steps have ranged from reconfiguring Facebook for Business to releasing information about upcoming changes to the Edge Rank algorithm that determine what content users see in their News Feeds.

More information can create more confusion, especially when trying to understand what the updates mean for your brand’s social media strategy. We sat down and analyzed the announcement in order to share the three things brands need to know about the changes that are headed to Facebook News Feeds:

 

1. This is good news for brands.

When it comes to the Edge Rank algorithm, change is the only constant.

 Now organic stories that people did not scroll down far enough to see can reappear near the top of News Feed if the stories are still getting lots of likes and comments.”

That means that if your content is getting a lot of engagement, it will have a new opportunity to gain additional organic awareness by being bumped back up in the feed. The cream will rise to the top.

2. This is great news for brands with strong, engaging content.

This most recent update makes it very clear that preference will be given to posts that have a lot of engagement. That means likes, comments, and shares will become even more important parts of the cyclical relationship between awareness and engagement, with each one creating new opportunities for the other.

For brands with a practiced approach to content creation, this is great news. It means that focusing on when your audience is online and the types of post that they engage with, will have a direct impact on your ability to increase organic awareness of your brand’s content.

Taking it one step further and focusing specifically on content creation best practices like balancing company focused posts with audience focused ones, including “fill in the blanks” and specific calls to action, and simply asking questions, will have even greater pay offs.

3. The update alone will not get your content in front of your fans and extended target audience.

Facebook is a business and businesses need to make money. One of the ways that Facebook makes money is by charging brands for the ability to advertise to their users. If Facebook allowed every post that your brand made to be seen by all of your fans, it would be difficult for them to charge you for access. From a user standpoint, it would be difficult to sift through the thousands of posts made each day. From a business standpoint, it can mean that much of your content goes unseen.

The answer? Promote the things that you really want people to see. If you strategically select content to promote, you can game Edge Rank.

Remember – strong content gets engagement, which leads to more awareness, which leads to more opportunities for engagement, and the cycle continues. An easy way to guarantee more awareness is to put some ad spend behind your content. If the content is good, the increase in awareness will magnify the amount of engagement, getting your content in front of an expanded audience.

Combining strategic ad spend with strong content and a system that allows the cream to rise to the top? That’s a recipe for social success.