Bits and Bytes

Thoughts on digital, running rambles and photos



Video on Instagram, hazy marketing, masterful UGC from REI and this week’s bits and bytes

Video on Instagram: Speculation about Instagram launching their own short form video service to counter Twitter’s Vine finally came true this week. You can now photograph and film your latte using Instagram.

(I swear I wrote that before I watched the video – WHERE SOMEBODY VIDEO INSTAGRAMS THEIR LATTE!)

Anyway, the differences between Instagram video and Vine:

  • you can take up to 15 seconds of video (rather than only 7 seconds on Vine)
  • the filters that made Instagram so popular are also available to videos shot with Instagram
  • when you post a video, you can select a particular still from your clip as the hero image

Vine responded by posting some videos of their own, featuring sneak peaks of new features for  revamped video stream categories and draft Vines (yes please!) – at least, that is what Techcrunch believes they are.

Hazy marketing: Remember when real-time marketing went mainstream? You know, when Oreo tweeted about being able to dunk an Oreo cookie in the dark after the lights went out at the Superbowl? And everybody loved it and wrote blog posts about how brilliant it was and how since then anybody working in comms has thought about how they can get their own Oreo moment?

Well, even the masters at Oreo don’t always get it right. You may have seen coverage on the BBC yesterday about the haze in Singapore from the forest fires in Indonesia (much like the ones 16 years ago when I was still in high school in Singapore – only much, much worse). The marketing bods decided that this message to their Singaporean fans would be a good idea.

Source: Oreo

Now, I can’t see the response to the image (the post is only visible to people in Singapore), but personally, I think this is in bad taste and I wouldn’t be surprised if the locals don’t see the funny side.

Bizarrely Adidas posted a similar effort to their Facebook page: offering 152 free gym passes on a day when the Pollutant Standards Index hit 152 at lunchtime.

Source: Adidas

Now, anything between 100-200 is considered to be unhealthy, so encouraging people to head out in that environment isn’t such a smart thing. In fact, on June 20, the PSI peaked at 371, a level of pollution deemed to be hazardous – but they are still posting similar content (although they’re no longer so keen on matching free gym passes to the PSI levels).

Am I getting too paranoid?

High street food chat: Research from Visceral Business and Synthesio found that 10 UK high street brands account for 96% of all social media food conversations. Those brands: Burger King, KFC, Starbucks, Pizza Hut, McDonalds, Subway, Greggs, Nando’s, Ben & Jerry’s and Dominos (HT @DigitalBlonde).

REI Member Stories: Recreational Equipment Inc (REI) make outdoor gear and clothing. Their clientele ranges from skiers, ridiculously inspiring iron-women (like @celia_cole), climbers, trekkers… you get the idea. A great post on PSAMA goes into detail about how REI works closely with their customers to create some stunning user generated content to market their products in intensely engaging clips (HT @jcolman).

Key advice from @Kelly_Ann_Walsh, Digital Equipment Program Manager for REI: “Don’t try to create a new behaviour. Try instead to integrate what your community is already doing.” And some key questions for any company interested in using UGC in their marketing:

  • What is your community doing and how can you leverage it to provide value to your audience?
  • What are your objectives for engagement?
  • How can you leverage current behaviour to create a community or connection?
  • How can you drive continued engagement?
  • Do you have the resources to moderate the content and scale?
  • What are the legal considerations?

Digital publishing ≠ paper publishing: “As we adapt to a world of connected devices, the way we think about our content publishing process and workflow must adapt too.” An excellent piece by @karenmcgrane in the Harvard Business Review.

Good news: “The noun and verb tweet (in the social-networking sense) has just been added to the OED. This breaks at least one OED rule, namely that a new word needs to be current for ten years before consideration for inclusion. But it seems to be catching on.

Would you hire these people? A post entitled ‘The Crazy, Creative Staff Photographs Of Ad Agencies’ and I really couldn’t say it any better. Some of these really are very whacky (HT @tomparker81).

Videos of the week: This Russian commercial for Tampax takes an unexpected turn (HT @KristianWard29)

Russell Brand makes a mokery of MSNBC’s Morning Joe (not too hard, but still, pretty good television)

And finally: Textatrosphe

80 social media rules, Google+ is The Matrix and this week’s bits and bytes

@SainsburysPR’s favourite tweets: As ever, at the end of the month at @SainsburysPR, we look back at our favourite Tweets of the month. May was yet another fun month, with a range of Tweets from fashionable ways to wear Sainsbury’s carrier bags, the Sainsbury’s Summer Series to Tweets about products our customers love.

Animated business review: Sainsbury’s published its Annual Report this week and to tell the story of how we performed over the last financial year, we created five quirky stop-frame-animated clips of our five areas of focus and why we believe our values make us different.

Screen Shot 2013-06-06 at 22.01.49
Source: Sainsbury’s Annual Report 2013

3 Must read posts this week:

  1. Adobe’s head of social media and general good guy @jeremywaite pulled together a rather brilliant list of 80 social media rules. The kind that you can happily print, frame and hang on your wall and follow.
  2. The Guardian’s tech editor @charlesarthur believes that we’ve all been looking at Google+ the wrong way: It’s not a social network like Facebook. Yes, you can follow friends and people and add them to circles and message them and post stuff and comment on things. He reckons that Google is more interested in all the other things you’re doing when you’re logged in to Google, Gmail, Youtube and Google Maps. Because that’s when you’re feeding Google information about your needs, likes and interests and wherabouts as well as movements. In turn, Google learns what you want and delivers that reality to you.
    Arthur compares Google+ to the computer construct of The Matrix films, where humans are kept in suspended animation, plugged into a dream world as their bodies’ BTU power the machines that have taken over the world (man, I love that film).
    Next time you’re searching for something, or looking on a map, or searching on YouTube, you’ll see what Google has decided are the “most relevant” results (and of course the “most relevant” adverts). If you frequent climate change denial sites, a search on “climate change” will turn those up ahead of the sites run by rational scientists. Whatever your leaning, politically, sexually, philosophically, if you let Google+ see it then that will be fed back to you. It’s the classic “filter bubble”.
  3. Rory Sutherland writes in Wired about four psychological theories as to why Amazon enjoys unrivalled success – and his argument for how we go about saving marketing.

Social media assistant: Gary Vaynerchuk, prolific über-blogger and boss of VaynerMedia, has hired someone to shadow him and produce content for dissemination across his social media properties. A full-time social media shadow. The idea is that while Gary is speaking at conferences, discussing social media in meetings or just chatting with people over lunch, there will always be someone to record and publish his thoughts.

My first reaction: “That’s bonkers”. Surely it can’t just be about the amount of content? But then, this:

Vaynerchuk’s broad-based social media push goes back to his belief that “it’s not good enough to just produce long-form content; you have to put out micro-content to drive awareness to it.” He’ll be creating “content native to the platform where the audience is,” which means that he [as captured by his assistant] might take a concept and write a blog post about it for his WordPress site, film a video, create an animated gif for Tumblr, post a quote on Instagram – or all of the above.

I think the point is that you or your organisation has to embed social media infrastructure, processes and training into the way you do business. Only then will your people  be able to produce content that speaks to your customer, tells the corporate story and helps achieve your business goals. For Gary that means socialising his every utterance, for others that could be as basic as making sure that more people at your company are savvy enough to understand what kind of message would play well in the outside world, how to capture it and how to get it out.

Vine now on Android: How else to announce that Twitter’s six second video sharing app Vine is now available for Android phones than through a Vine? The Android version has everything that the 13 million iPhone users already know, as well as a unique to Android function: zoom.

Visualising Tweets: Nifty work from the guys at Twitter who’ve plotted some incredibly accurate maps using nothing but the geographic information from geotagged Tweets. Unsurprisingly, major cities appear as bright spots of heavy Twitter activity, with major roads and even ferry traffic routes clearly visible when you zoom in.

Source: Twitter Office on Flickr

Videos of the week: Last week we had Hahn sort out the problem of spilled beers, this week it’s Burger King at the forefront of fast-food R&D with their Hands Free Whopper technology.

How much is a can of Pepsi? One Facebook Like.

A marvellous new campaign from the community run mobile network Giff Gaff: Don’t be scared.

And finally: Actors laughing between takes.

BVB’s PR masterclass mobbed by Puma, Guardian Coffee and this week’s bits and bytes

BerryLove: Judging by the weather today and last weekend, it looks like Summer might actually be happening after all. The @SainsburysPR team (thank you to @MindyB_ for the art direction!) decided to post our first Vine to celebrate the arrival of British strawberries into our stores. Wooo!

Sing when you’re winning: Dortmund and Bayern played out the first ever Germanic Champions League final last weekend and even though Dortmund lost the game, they clearly won the PR battle. Their Deckchair Tour of London in a big, bright yellow bus was particularly brilliant, placing the chair in strategic locations around the capital (including, of course, the obligatory beach towel).

Source: Borussia Dortmund

Before the game, The Guardian published their excellent interview with Dortmund’s coach, Jürgen Klopp. Even after Bayern were crowned champions of Europe, the indomitable spirit of Klopp shone through in his press conference and the way he summed up the game.

But then came Dortmund’s kit sponsors Puma with probably the world’s worst flash mob: Defeated by the Lederhosen-clad Teutons of Bavaria and on their way back to Germany, the Dortmund squad were greeted at Stansted Airport by a troupe of Puma clad street-stylers (is that what they’re called?), beat-boxing and break-dancing to an audience of utterly nonplussed BVB players.

Again. This was a good 12 hours after the final whistle. So I have to assume that the marketing bods at Puma knew their team had come out second best but decided to go ahead regardless. I suppose the performers had been paid and everything was ready to go. After all, it can’t be that easy to get permission to do this kind of thing at an Airport.

Unsurprisingly, the video bombed and was shared for all the wrong reasons.

But it gets better.

Two days later and in response to some rather colourful language and malicious glee on Twitter, Puma decided to put out this promoted tweet (fair play to them for engaging with the conversation and not just hiding away):

The Tweet takes you through to a poll on their Facebook page where Puma acknowledge that the best time for a celebratory flashmob is when you have something to celebrate. I suspect they deserve some brownie points for apologising – kind of – but I cannot understand why they went ahead with the flashmob in the first place.

Just to finish off on the Champions League final, here are some facts on the match from Twitter: 4.8 million Tweets with Robben the most mentioned player.

The long tail of the press release: Research from PR Newswire shows that the average life span of a press release is about four months. While findings like this from a company that distributes and hosts press releases should be taken with a pinch of salt, it does also show that good stories and releases will be found by interested readers and remain relevant long after they’ve been published (HT @CorpCommsMag).

#GuardianCoffee: Following in the footsteps of TAZNRC daily and the Winnipeg Free Press News Cafe, The Guardian launched their own coffee shop this week. No, really. Aptly named #GuardianCoffee, the café popped up in Shoreditch’s Boxpark and is meant to provide journalists a place to work. The reception’s been mixed: GQ thought it more suited to “those more interested in Instagramming their latte art rather than enjoying a conversation”, while Vice felt “the vibe was sterile and deathly”. The best summary of events though goes to Us vs Th3m (HT @stangreenan).

Still, it’s got nothing on the Czechs and their Newsroom Cafés where local newspapers are produced jointly by editorial staff and guests of the café.

Tumblr launches ads: Yahoo didn’t waste any time in getting ads onto Tumblr, rolling out sponsored posts to their entire platform (they’d already been live for about a year on Tumblr’s mobile app). Somewhat predictably, the reception has been negative with some users quick to post ways to remove the ads from their pages.

Updates to both Twitter and Facebook: Twitter updated its mobile app, refreshing the tweet composer screen, making it easier to tweet images. The new layout also makes it easier to see which account your tweeting from (useful for those people who don’t want to mix their work and private Twitter accounts).

Facebook meanwhile took a leaf out of the Twitter playbook (read: flat out copied) and launched verified pages. They’ve not even bothered to come up with their own symbol – they’ve just gone and used Twitter’s blue tick.

What’s in a ringtone? A good one for the next time you’re down the pub with your friends. Did you know that the sound that Facebook makes when you receive a video call is made up of the notes F, A, C and E (HT @stangreenan)?

Google MotoX: Google have announced plans to build a smartphone that will predict what you’re going to do before you do it. Gyroscopes and other sensors will continuously track the whereabouts and movements of the phone so it will know if you’re walking around your neighbourhood and pulling it out of your trouser pocket or if you sitting in the back of a cab on your way to the airport. Expect to be out of battery by the time you get to work (HT @TreebD).

Videos of the week: A brilliant stunt from Samsung in Zurich to promote the new Galaxy S4 and its ‘smart pause’ function.

You and nine of your mates happen to be in flat, open area and have a hankering for some 5-a-side footie action? Nike’s ‘Mi Pista’ app/campaign has got you covered (HT @stangreenan).

Aussie brewer Hahn is working to put an end to all those beer spillages on dance floors around the world.

And finally: Beardvertising. Yes. This is real.

GoPro understands social rewards, POTUS rocks and this week’s bits and bytes

Sainsbury’s: Remember when you could slap Jamie Oliver via Youtube? Well, we’ve come up with our own version of that interactive Youtube clip to accompany our Kitchen Heroes campaign. Check it out to see what you can do with a carton of by Sainsbury’s chopped tomatoes (needs some work in the juggling department though…).

Also, make sure you watch the über-tasty food pornography that is the new by Sainsbury’s ads. Probably the greatest sausage sandwich you’ll ever see.

And yup, another month has passed which makes it time for a look back at our favourite tweets from April. Highlights were the new Gok for Tu collection, the Cake and Bake Show and of course the news that Sainsbury’s is sponsoring the British Athletics Summer Series.

Twitter safety: After high profile Twitter accounts from news organisations were compromised – most recently that of AP which caused a dip in the DOW – Twitter has sent a memo directly to the newsdesks with some tips on how to keep their accounts safe. Key points to remember are to use secure passwords and change them regularly, keep your email secure and keep an eye out for suspicious activity from any apps you may have authorised to have access to your account.

So far, so sensible. But then they go on to say that you should designate one computer to use for Twitter exclusively. So no email or browsing the Web. Bizarre. Here’s hoping this is all just a temporary stop gap before Twitter rolls out two-factor-authentication.

Reward & inspire: A customer that has bought your product and created something beautiful will most likely be a fan of your product. Should they chose to share this beautiful thing they’ve created, all you need to do is share that with your community. Your customer’s creation will serve to inspire other people to do the same or inspire their own ideas.

Much like Lego, the people at GoPro are brilliant at using the things their customers create and share them through their own social media channels. GoPro sells tiny HD cameras that can be mounted on pretty much anything, from tripods/helmets/skis/skateboards, to guitars, dogs and mouthpieces. The videos that they chose to share are some of the most incredible, inspiring, awesome clips you’ll see on the web. Sure, it helps if these videos feature a host of beautiful (often scantily clad) people doing awesome things, gratuitous use of slow motion and time-lapse photography as well as a pounding electro soundtrack, but you get what I mean.

Case in point – a video of a dude solving a Rubik cube. Not interested? How about if it’s three cubes at the same time. Still nothing? OK then. How about a video of a dude solving three Rubik cubes simultaneously WHILE JUGGLING THEM (are you listening @AlexCole71?). Thought so.

Facebook fatigue: There has been much talk about Facebook fatigue and the latest numbers from SocialBakers don’t show any turnaround in fortunes for the big blue social network, especially not in developed markets such as Europe, the US and Australia. In the last six months, Facebook has lost nearly 9m monthly visitors in the US and 2m in the UK. Why is this? The Guardian asked readers why: it’s superficial, boring, gimmicky and there’s too much fighting. An interesting point from a reader: It’s no longer a place where you can keep up with what’s going on with your friends and family – it’s a place where business can farm your information from.

Facebook’s demise seems somewhat exaggerated though. Its first quarter figures show that monthly and daily active users are up to 751 million and 665 million respectively. Even though net income was less than what analysts expected, mobile revenues is what seems to have saved Zuck for now: they’ve doubled this in six months. Still, as Nikhil Kumar notes in his excellent analysis for the Evening Standard notes, there is room for caution.

SMS is dead? Well, perhaps not dead, but definitely green around gills. Turns out that in 2012, more people sent messages using chat apps such as BBM, What’s App, Skype, iMessage than using good old fashioned SMS. A study by Informa found that almost 19 billion instant messages were sent using chat apps in 2012, compared to 17.6 billion SMS texts. All of that of course means a massive whole in revenues for mobile phone carriers. Suppose we can all expect data tariffs to become more expensive!

POTUS standup: President Obama spoke at the annual White House Correspondents’ Dinner this week. Not only was he funnier than Conan (not hard), his 20 minute routine just shows how charming the man really is and how important it is to count Steven Spielberg as one of your friends. For fans of the US version of House of Cards, please make sure you check out Kevin Spacey and a host of democrats and republicans come together for an excellent “Prom of the Nerds” spoof.

Still on POTUS – the White House this week joined Tumblr and in its first post, outlined exactly what people can expect from the blog with a nifty, hand-drawn pie chart. The administration will tumble quotes from Potus, videos, behind the scenes stuff and updates from Vpotus and Flotus. So far, so good. A sign that Obama’s social media bods are very much plugged into to the Internet Zetigeist comes in the form of a stand on how to pronounce the word “gif”. Rather than go with the soft G as in ‘gist’ (which, mind you, is the way that the inventors of the gif format intended it to be pronounced), the president has decided to go with the hard G as in gift. Let the battle of the geeks begin.

Source: White House

No. 10 Twitter first: Not wanting to be left out, Downing Street plans to use Twitter to give preferred journalists a heads up on announcements before they are made in parliament. I have a feeling we’ll be getting many more The Thick Of It moments as a result.

Can you tell a story in 6 words? Hemingway allegedly penned: For sale. Baby shoes. Never worn. But what about a story in 6 seconds of stop/start footage via Twitter’s Vine? Here are the award winning 6 second vines from the Tribeca film festival.

Anticipatory computing: Imagine you’re talking to a friend about planning your weekend, talking about potential restaurants, destinations and activities. You’re using an iPad app called MindMeld that listens to what the two of you have to say, conducts Internet searches on some of the keywords you use, and displays them in real time. As someone who has been in a long distance relationship and dependent on technology like Skype and FaceTime, I cannot imagine anything worse. But make up your own mind with this video

Videos of the week: every day, more photos are taken with the iPhone than any other camera – a fact that Apple have gone and used as the idea for their new ad (and going by Flickr data, it’s actually true!).

Apple fan boys (why hello there!) and Samsung owners fight all the time on who has made the better tech choice. Have a look at this for a clever bit of advertising.

Budweiser’s ‘Buddy Cups‘ makes toasting friends instant friends on Facebook.

Ecotricity comes up with an excellent clip to promote alternative power sources.

And finally: Ed Balls breaks the Internet.

HMV’s Twitter meltdown, a masterclass in multimedia storytelling and this week’s bits and bytes

Pinch, punch, first day of the month – it can only mean our monthly look back at @SainsburysPR’s favourite tweets from January 2013.

And while we’re on the topic – Sainsbury’s has landed on rank 6 in the FTSE 100 social media index (up from 27th last year!). The report highlighted Sainsbury’s strong presence across all six channels in the index, especially the YouTube channel with its variety of content from recipe tutorials to playlists on its involvement in the Paralympics and with Fairtrade. Sainsbury’s use of Twitter and how we engage our corporate and consumer audiences through dedicated accounts @SainsburysPR and @Sainsburys was also seen as a reason for the strong performance.

Over on Escherman’s blog, @andismit takes a look at which journalists you should follow on Twitter. He uses data from Twitonomy to look at how The Guardian’s tech editor Charles Arthur uses Twitter (does he RT? Does he @? When is he most active?). This leads to a number of suggestions for how PRs should engage with journos on Twitter. It starts to get interesting though when Charles responds in the comments to the post and provides his own view on how to use Twitter – very useful to read his point of view and also goes to show that while using and understanding data is increasingly important for PRs, it should not be trusted in blindly.

In what ‏@marcusleroux from The Times called the most entertaining parting shot since Stephen Pollard left the Express, HMV’s official account @HMVtweets gained 10,000 followers in the space of a few hours yesterday as a an employee live tweeted the firing of over 100 employees. Apparently, HMV HR had started internal redundancy meetings with the marketing teams, including the person responsible for their social media account. The tweets were quickly deleted, but not before they’d been screengrabbed and retweeted all over the world. The social media manager behind it all later posted her motivations from her personal account. I’ve pulled together a summary of it all together in a Storify about the #hmvXFactorFiring.

You should always read things carefully. Especially when you retweet them, as Capital Hotel learnt when they shared what they thought was a positive review by Jay Rayner with their followers. Oops (HT @tomparker81).

Everywhere there is talk about the old media world dying. Interesting then that it is old media institutions like Forbes and the New York Times that are blazing a trail for the rest of the publishing world. Forbes offer a great insight into the changing of the guard that is evident in both the technology used by the journalists as it is in the their mindset in a great piece titled Inside Forbes: A New Wave of Digital Journalist Is Showing a Profession the Way Forward.

But what really blew my mind is this brilliant project by the New York Times about an avalanche at Tunnel Creek. Titled ‘Snow Fall’, it is already being seen as a seminal piece of work in terms of online storytelling techniques. It combines videos, animation and audio around one specific event and pulls it all together through some beautifully written and exceptionally harrowing narrative to deliver what is an entirely engrossing online experience. Truly magical in its implementation as it keeps perfectly the balance between tech and storytelling. Bottom line: PLEASE LOOK AT THIS. IT IS ABSOLUTELY MAGNIFICENT. I can also highly recommend the Q&A with the author of the piece, John Branch (HT @davidjstocks).

Vine, Twitter’s new 6 second video app launched last week. Imagine Instagram without filters and instead of a photo you record a short video. I played around with the new Vine app myself and also had a look at how brands are starting to use it.

Image credit: Vine

Remember Foursquare? That app where you check in and get to be mayor of a location if you check in most often? Well as someone who was once the mayor of my local pub, my local coffee shot, my local Sainsbury’s, Sainsbury’s Head Office and a number of other places – I never really saw the point. Why? Businesses just weren’t rewarding check ins or mayorships. Launched in 2009, it’s taken them four years to finally come up with an app that allows business owners manage specials and view analytics. We’ll see if that will make checking in worthwhile…

Videos of the week

“Push to add drama by TNT – the sequel”

and “The Replacer”

Awesome. And you gotta love the Fargo reference in the second one.

Image source: Failposters

And finally: anybody who has ever spoken to me about QR codes knows I hate them and, given the chance, will go on a rant full of colourful language. Mainly because of the half-arsed and poor executed implementation. Generally I point people to the brilliant Pictures of People Scanning QR Codes but our very own @SimonLP has started curating these wonderfully painful examples of QR Code fails on Pinterest so I shall from now on point people who mention them there.

How brands are using Twitter’s Vine

So here’s a wee video of Momo and I running in sub-zero temperatures along the Schuylkill River trail in Philly.

Why is that (possibly) important?

I took the video with Twitter’s new 6 second video sharing platform Vine. Available on iPhone only for now, the app encourages users to record short clips made up of even shorter clips. The UI is really simple, Twitter is integrated (obviously) and it doesn’t play well with Facebook (obviously) – all you really need is an idea and/or a cute subject.

Like Momo.

Vine isn’t even 24 hours old and already we’re seeing Brands experimenting with this new short form video format via their Twitter profiles.

Nothing earth-shatteringly ingenious or clever:

  • showing off their products and services,
  • offering a behind the scenes look at their employees, or
  • providing an interview snippet to entice fans into watching the whole thing.

But they’re showing willingness to try something new and most importantly, they’re having fun with it. Interesting also, that the brands values/identity clearly shine through in those little vignettes.

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