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THAT selfie, tech shabbats, private photo messaging and this week’s bits and bytes

THAT selfie: Danish PM Helle Thorning Schmidt was caught in the act of taking a selfie of herself with British PM David Cameron and President Obama at Mandela’s memorial service. The photograph capturing this display of inappropriate behaviour went mega-viral and was plastered across the front pages of the Mail, Telegraph, Sun and Times the next day – and going by the reaction of Michelle Obama, the flight back on Air Force 1 may have been a frosty one (she was quick to get Barry back).

The shocking display by the three heads of state caused a divide in the @SainsburysPR team. Was it, as the The Sun called it, a “cheesy pic”, a show of no “selfie respect”? Was it really “so out of keeping with what the day was about,” as Daily Telegraph media writer Neil Midgley believes? Or was it a show of how even world leaders are just human beings?

Esquire online deputy editor Sam Parker probably summed it up best:

All this media (social and otherwise) coverage and @a_little_wine did bring to my attention the wonderful collection of selfies at funerals on the very appropriately named Tumblr selfies at funerals. In existence since August, Jason Feifer, the site’s editor, explains how this social media curiosity came about:

Just to see what would happen, I typed the words “selfie” and “funeral” into Twitter’s search bar. Staring back at me was a global parade of mostly doe-eyed teens, photographing themselves and writing things like, “Love my hair today. Hate why I’m dressed up #funeral.”

Feifer goes on to explain why the Thorning Schmidt/Cameron/Obama selfie is a fitting end to his Tumblr that had at that point already garnered a bit of media indignation. Rather seeing it as proof of the moral and social depravity of kids today, he puts it rather differently

“When a teen tweets out a funeral selfie, their friends don’t castigate them. They understand that their friend, in their own way, is expressing an emotion they may not have words for. It’s a visual language that older people – even those like me, in their 30s – simply don’t speak.”

So rather than give our triumvirate more grief, we should commend them for being so down with the kids.

So.

A selfie at a funeral? All good.

A selfie at a funeral WITH DUCKFACE? You disgust me.

Technology Shabbats: @TiffanyShlain shares how living in today’s over-connected world has led her family to unplug for one full day every week. She calls them their “Technology Shabbats,” they’ve done it every week for over three years, and it’s completely changed her family’s life.

A thought-provoking clip that speaks to the dangers of consuming too much information via digital screens, of being ‘always on’, of continuous distraction by devices, social networks and the desire for that next like or retweet hit.

I also recommend having a look at Shlain’s channel on AOL ‘The future starts here‘ – and her thoughts on a variety of things including motherhood, tech etiquette, and the creative process of film making.

Private photo messaging: Over the top messaging platforms such as What’s App, Snapchat, Kik and Viber (named as such because they work on the service provided via an app but that is not provided by your network provider) are becoming more popular as teens move away from conducting their social lives through open social media networks and move into platforms that allow 1-to-1 or 1-to-few interactions where they can control who receives the information they’re sharing.

The rising popularity of services that allow the user to send private images updates to your friends in particular has resulted in Instagram and Twitter launching their own version of private picture messaging this week.

For Twitter, this isn’t the biggest leap – direct messaging has been around for a while. But as of this week, you can DM images. For Instagram however, it’s always been about publicly sharing images. It’s never really been a channel to have a conversation with, private or otherwise, so the addition of a private image messaging – or Instagram Direct as they call it – is quite a shift.

Twitter’s update is very basic. You can attach an image to a DM. With Instagram, they’ve added another layer: After sending, you’ll be able to find out who’s seen your photo or video, see who’s liked it and watch your recipients commenting in real-time as the conversation unfolds. A clever touch – and I suspect one that will resonate with the Instagram user base. More thoughts on these two changes over on the NYT.

Crispy fried smartphone: Every once in a while I come across a story that shows why you should never censor or tell an angry customer that he cannot vent his frustrations. Samsung is the latest company to fall afoul of the Streisand Effect, after trying to stop a customer posting videos of his defective Galaxy S4 – and by defective, I mean burnt to a crisp after the phone’s battery had caught fire while charging. Rather than killing the story, all Samsung managed to do was make it grow and spread.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2QHd-_qncEU

Watch the second clip here (over a million views at the time of writing), where the customer talks about his interaction with Samsung. The Daily Dot has more on the exchange and some of the rather bizarre demands of an overzealous legal department that do nothing more than add fuel to the battery fire.

The case for NGOs to get Redditing: A great read from @RowanEmslie about why NGOs should get involved with hyperactive networks of influencers such as Reddit to get their message out to wider audiences. Emslie bases his argument on the key insight that “people want and expect to be a part of the process, to be communicated with on a more immediate level, and to be able to get involved if they want to” and that while Reddit might be smaller than Facebook, it’s a much more active network made up of people who have influence outside of Reddit.

Videos of the week: Canadian budget airline WestJet decided to make Christmas wishes come true for some of their lucky passengers in this impressive and perfectly executed stunt. On their blog, the company says they’d donate flights to a family in need if the clip got more than 200,000 views. It’s at over 22,000,000 as I write this. And yes, the guy who asked for new socks and pants is still kicking himself…

Klingenberg Farm in the US wanted to show people a bit more about what life as a farmer was like. Rather than a boring to camera piece explaining it all, they decided to parody the most bizarre yet strangely popular YouTube films of the year, Ylvis’ “What does the Fox say“, to produce the brilliant “What does the farmer say?” (HT @a_little_wine).

The Marketing Anthem celebrates the brave marketers who’ve made us become friends with a cookie, ask us rhetorical questions on Facebook, and that “-vertising” can go at the end of anything.

And finally: The *Santa* brand book – includes the brand guidelines, promise, values and all the tools you’ll need to get into the brand approved Christmas spirit.

Sharing cool, listicles, an ode to Warsteiner and this week’s bits and bytes

Teenagers want a simple way to share cool stuff: Facebook has not been having a good time lately. An academic study from the University of Michigan has found that people tended to feel worse and less satisfied after using Facebook.

As if that weren’t enough, the article that’s popped up most in my feeds this week has been a piece on Mashable penned by 13-year-old Ruby Karp titled “I’m 13 and None of My Friends Use Facebook“.

Bored teenager is bored.

I don’t see this as the death knell for Facebook. Rather more interesting are her statements about how teenagers follow their peers, want what their friends want and prefer simple things.

If that’s true, then the need for complex social interactions and continuous ego-marketing is deemed to be unnecessary and a waste of time by teenagers. Instead, Ruby and her friends prefers to focus on platforms that are relevant to her immediate social circle and allow them to share and curate the stuff they think is cool, new – stuff that their parents aren’t already using or sharing.

Listicles: They’ve been around for ages. On Letterman, in newspapers, the Premier League table. In High Fidelity, Rob spends most of his time compiling them. In Sainsbury’s stores up and down the country, our customers use them to make sure they stick to their budget and don’t forget anything. Hell, this blog is based on the principle of the listicle!

I’m talking of course about the wonderful, powerful and entirely simple list.

We are in The Age Of The Listicle (entire articles based on the the structure of a list). Critics see them as the dumbing down of journalism, as nothing more than link bait and click fodder that generate page impressions to inflate website stats.

Hoever, when you have such perfect executions as this brilliant, entertaining and hilarious effort by Mashable about 15 dating tips from Game of Thrones – you can see why it is that listicles are changing journalism

Fired for taking a photo: Remember a while back when a disgruntled HMV employee live tweeted redundancies in the marketing team? This week saw a similarly painful example of corporate downsizing going viral. AOL CEO Tim Armstrong assembled staff from his hyper local news division Patch (which he founded and brought into AOL) to inform them of impending doom.

During the speech, Armstrong made a point of underlining his view on how leaking information about Patch to the press doesn’t affect him: “I don’t care.”

Moments later, Patch’s creative director Abel Lenz takes out his camera and moves to take a photo for Patch’s Intranet.

Armstrong stops in mid sentence, turns to Lenz and orders him to put the camera down.

Another pause, before Armstrong continues: “Abel, you’re fired. Out!”

Why has everyone from the Indie, Forbes, Daily Mail, Bloomberg to the New York Times covered this story? Because all of it was recorded and uploaded to Soundcloud where over a million people have listened to the moment a guy was fired for taking a photo for the company Intranet.

Armstrong has since issued an apology for the rather crass firing, explaining that Lenz had been warned previously not to make recordings of confidential meetings. Why the whole spiel about not caring about leaks in the first place? Bizarre.

The power of video: A great presentation by @LeslieBradshaw to show why video is the best way to get your message across in today’s time and attention poor environment.

  • With ever smarter phones and portable devices as well as faster data connections, videos are already mobile
  • The moving image grabs our attention and we’re more likely to stick to it. I love the line ‘You’re more likely to be struck by lightning than click on a banner ad’ – it rings true. When was the last time you clicked on an ad?
  • Video bypassess the ‘TL;DR mindset’ – people are scared by long texts are likely to not even attempt reading them. The fact that ‘TL;DR’ is a common web abbreviation for ‘too long; didn’t read’ speaks volumes
  • It seems to always be a video that goes viral (except, of course, if it’s Giraffe Bread…! Imagine if we’d created a video with Lily explaining why we changed the name?)

And while we’re on virulent video: Twitter has published a marvelous piece about how videos go viral, using the examples of “Ryan Gosling doesn’t like cereal”, “Dove’s Real Beauty” and Commander Hadfield’s intergalactic Space Oddity cover.

Why I’ll be drinking Warsteiner from now on: I spent my Wednesday evening watching a rubbish Germany draw 3-3 with Paraguay, and England make hard work of Scotland. Accompanying me were a large stuffed crust Pepperoni Pizza and a bottle of Warsteiner. I felt suitably bloke-ish and decided to tweet this glorious ensemble.

No long after, @Warsteiner_UK responded and retweeted me.

Now. I’ve been doing this social media lark for a good while now, and I know this isn’t hard to do for a company. I suspect that Warsteiner don’t have the biggest market share in the UK (Becks seems to be the German beer of choice here), and a quick look at Sysomos shows that in the last 30 days, 488 tweets from the UK have mentioned Warsteiner – most of those mentions coming from their own account.

Still, I found my choice of beverage validated. I am writing about it here. And you know what, I will be more inclined to keep a look out for Warsteiner the next time I’m at a bar or in the BWS aisle in my local Sainsbury’s (mind you, it also helps that it’s a mighty tasty beer, but that’s another story).

Social media creates many such opportunities for brands and businesses to listen for and respond to the people using their products. I wasn’t looking for a retweet or any other response. I didn’t @ them or # their brand name. But they are quite clearly out there, listening for these types of statements and responding to them. A quick retweet, fave and/or @ response really does go a long way in building a link between a customer and a brand.

Newswires are dead: Google has again updated their algorithm, punishing over-optimised press releases and bad content. Andy Barr from @10Yetis puts it rather splendidly: The murder of PR agencies by Google has been vastly exaggerated

Videos of the week: I’d really be interested to know what women think of the hot, heavy and holy-crap-I-really-shouldn’t-be-looking-at-this-at-work Agent Provocateur ad directed by Penelope Cruz and staring Irina Shayk and Javier Bardem.

The clever chaps at Paddy Power have decided to sponsor the greatest football team in the history of the game, Farnborough FC. Messi, Pele, Beckenbauer, Lineker… you’ll want to watch this great clip (HT @stangreenan).

And finally: Go to YouTube. Watch a video (for this exercise, may I suggest this one). Pause it during playback. Click anywhere on the page and type “1980”. Enjoy.

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