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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.

Airline Twitter shenanigans, iDamp, Lyric Videos and this week’s bits and bytes

Social media insight: Social Media Week was on this week. I didn’t go to any events but I refer to @Garyvee‘s marvellous manifesto that pretty much covers the insight you can hope to garner from these events. Unlike these selections.

BU59bthCAAAyQywBudget Tweets, Part 1: This week, Ryanair Chief Exec Michael O’Leary announced at their AGM that the company would look to reform it’s abrupt culture and things that unnecessarily annoy passengers: “I am very happy to take the blame or responsibility if we have a macho or abrupt culture. Some of that may well be my own personal character deformities.”

Did this new found humility and focus on customer service prompt Europe’s biggest budget Airline to launch their own Twitter account? I don’t know. Their first Tweet was promising, showing some of that don’t-give-a-sh*t tone-of-voice they’re so (in)famous for.

Many RTs and responses followed – along with their second Tweet, a day later.

https://twitter.com/Ryanair/status/379944310029811712

Errr… right chaps.

By that logic, you haven’t quite grasped this whole social media thing and many other companies shouldn’t be on Twitter either. Do have a look at the responses to that Tweet – it’s telling to see what people expect from brands who come to Twitter.

I suspect that Ryanair won’t care too much about it… at least until they find a way for passengers to pay for the privilege of receiving Tweets?

Budget Tweets, Part 2: Meanwhile, Europe’s other budget airline also had a turbulent week on Twitter. EasyJet landed in some hot water when they stopped The Drum’s tech law columnist Mark Leiser from boarding a flight because he’d criticised the airline on Twitter.

The Drum have the whole story, here are the pertinent Tweets from Leiser and Easyjet (HT @TomParker81).

https://twitter.com/mleiser/status/382620916708282368

Tweetliner vs. Dreamliner: Completing the aeronautical Twitter theme this week is a rather nifty retweet competition from @BritishAirways, who pitted a Dreamliner and an Airbus A380 against a flight powered by Tweets tagged with #RaceThePlane. The competition was live for the actual duration of the actual flights (suspect they made sure they’d leave on time) and participants who tweeted using the hashtag had a chance to win free flights.

I’ve no idea how many tweets equate to a mile (the official microsite doesn’t seem to provide that info), but in both cases the Tweetliner beat its real-life competitor. The competition generated around 24,000 mentions of #RaceThePlane; the first flight peaked at a little over 8,000 and the second a week later at around 14,000. Reach, according to Sysomos, was around 132 million impressions generated from about 13,000 Twitter users. Not bad for the world’s first Twitter powered flight!

https://twitter.com/BritishAirways/status/382690657887719424

I share, therefore I am? A hypnotic animation from Simi Cohen about how today’s über-connected society could in fact lead to loneliness – even though the illusion of all our social media friends and followers would have us believe otherwise. 

Lyric videos: Remember, in the olden days, when you bought a CD and popped it in your Discman, and listened to your favourite band’s new album (Def Leppard, baby!), and then read the lyrics as the song was playing in the booklet (Pour Some Sugar On Me. They don’t write ’em like that no more)?

Good times.

Since then, the mp3 has killed the album and all we have are massive playlists of individual songs – and no idea what people are singing about.

The Internet looks to have come to the rescue with ‘Lyrics Videos’ – a bizarre, home-made sub-genre where fans combine the music and lyrics from their favourite song with their own footage. And according to the NYT, this trend is now so popular on Youtube, that artists like Maroon 5 and Katy Perry are producing their own lyric videos – often before their official music video is released to get interest in a new single going.

iDamp: Sad proof this week that some Apple fans aren’t terribly bright, when the online community 4Chan generated nine different fake Apple iOS 7 ads claiming the newly released mobile operating system would make iDevices waterproof

Screen Shot 2013-09-26 at 18.42.104Chan members took to Twitter to spread the word of this breakthrough new feature and troll Apple fans.

And yes, according to the reports, people actually fell for it!

In other Apple news: turns out the iPhone 5s’ fingerprint scanner was hacked by Chaos Computer Club. So much for that then.

Imgur beats Reddit: While we’re on slightly more left-field online communities, Buzzfeed reports that the image hosting service Imgur (built to support the online community and ‘front page to the Internet’ Reddit, because it didn’t provide its own image hosting service), now has more users than the community it was built to support. Even better: it doesn’t rely on venture capital and is profitable – unlike Reddit.

Correction of the year? From the Evening Standard.

Videos of the week: Jimmy Fallon and Justin Timberlake show us how using #hashtags in real life will make you sound like a complete and utter tool.

Adobe asks if you really know what your marketing is doing?

And growing London’s skyline (well, tourist attractions and train stations) with geo-tagged Tweets

And finally: Sh*t PR Ideas [hit refresh to see a new one]

Breaking news vs social media, sexy data and this week’s bits and bytes

Traditional vs. social news: There’s been a lot of discussion about how traditional media and new media failed in their coverage of the Boston Marathon bombing. I agree to a degree. CNN – and other news organisations – had a shocker and spent hours spinning a story about the bombers being identified before their identities were released by the authorities – a point that Jon Stewart (who isn’t the biggest fan of the network anyway) proceeded to make fun of on ‘The Daily Show’.

There’s also been much talk about how social media – mainly Twitter and, of all sites, Reddit – got the news wrong, as if they have some sort of obligation to get it right. That’s like accusing the patrons of your local pub of reporting the story in an inaccurate way. Social media, much like banter down the pub, isn’t subject to journalistic principles. It is bizarre to me that at times such as this people point the finger at social media and blame it for purposefully spreading misinformation. As much as technology like Twitter helps breaking news, facts, rumours and misinformation spread like wildfire, it isn’t the cause of that misinformation. The power to spread misinformation – or topple governments like during the Arab Spring – is with people, not technology.

Twitter doubles account security: While we’re on the topic of misinformation spreading on social media, this week saw yet another high profile Twitter account getting hacked. The Associated Press appeared to tweet that explosions had hit the White House and President Barack Obama had been injured. The account was immediately suspended and the tweets removed, but not before the Dow dropped about 200 points. No wonder then, that people are relieved that Twitter is finally ready to roll out two-factor authentication, a second layer of security that requires a code to either be sent to an authorised mobile device or generated via some sort of app or key-fob.

Crisis management: An interesting take on crisis management – as seen from the perspective of @jameslyne, one of the top IT security bods at Sophos. Great to see that after IT colleagues, the next team he has on the list is PR.

Interactive infographics: The aptly named ThingLink allows you to post images with extra layers of information in them such as videos and links to other supporting stories to Facebook, Twitter and many other platforms (except for WordPress it seems… grrr). Youtube videos and audio clips play in the image, text links provide a short preview and open in a new window – making for a decent user experience (at least on a desktop!). Doctors Without Borders have tried the new technology to provide an interactive guide on how they respond to crisis around the world; Cnet use it to provide a review of the new Galaxy S4; and you can check out many more ways brands and people are using ThingLink on their site. So what? you cry? Well, ThinkLink generates ‘more than five times as much engagement’ on Twitter (HT @BrionyIvy).

Data porn: Wolfram Alpha’s Facebook plugin has been live for a while and this week, the computational search engine published a fascinating dissection of Facebook data. The data provides insight into how Facebook users’ circle of friends change over time (especially in age), how their interests change as they grow older, and when their relationship status shifts from single to in a relationship to engaged to married. Now, before you go off and say, pffff, that’s just Facebook. Nobody tells the truth on Facebook – Wolfram concludes that (at least for the US) the data corresponds closely to official census data.

Source: Wolfram Alpha

Environmentally friendly suicide: “Right. Guys. We’ve got this new car. 100% water emissions. Environmentally friendly. How do we get that message across in our next ad?” Here’s how Hyundai answered this challenge (I tried to embed the video, but copies are being taken down like crazy by Hyundai). The mind boggles. Twitter wasn’t impressed. Holly Brockwell, who publishes the Copybot blog, posted a withering response to the ad, talking about how her father had committed suicide as depicted by the ad. It was quickly pulled from Hyundai’s Youtube channel but of course by then, many copies had already been made and the news spread (HT @a_little_wine).

Before you die, make sure you sort your direct debit: Your father in law passes away and you receive a bill from your cable provider telling you that as the direct debit didn’t go through – after all, the payer was deceased – you’re faced with a late payment fee of £10. What do you do? Post it to Facebook and watch it be shared over 90,000 times! All ends well though, Virgin Media apologised, the late payment charge was removed and the customer wrote a poem to celebrate (HT @KristianWard29).

Feed the troll until it bursts: The general consensus on social is to not feed the trolls. They’re bored, looking for a fight, to get a rise out of you, to see if they can get you to breaking point. Well, whoever manages the @Cineworld Twitter feed is the exception that proves the rule. Seriously, worth reading the entire exchange – if you have a bit of spare time! @Lakey from econsultancy takes a closer look at the exchange and why not more companies handle customers this way.

Location based recommendation: Foursquare continues its shift from check-in to a search an discovery space. Turns out that over 50 million people have visited its homepage in the last two months.

Videos of the week: the dancing babies are back

New LG screens are just too darned realistic

And some buttery goodness from Lurpak.

And finally: After Bayern and Dortmund demolished their hapless opposition in the Champions League semifinals, Paddy Power posted this wonderful photo to their Facebook page. And yes. That is The Hoff.

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