Five things on Friday #74

Things of note for the week ending May 30th, 2014.

1. ‘Super Important Tweet’
I first found out about this web app via the always interesting Web Curios newsletter. Basically, the premise is that you can add ‘importance’ to a tweet by creating a text-based-image that you can embed in your tweet which subsequently hammers home the importance of what it is you’re trying to say.

However, what it actually does is allow you to create a perfectly sized image for Twitter. That’s right brands, a simple web app now does that thing you all seem incapable of doing.

Amazing, right?

Try it.

2. Ocean Piglets, Shield Toads, and Naked Snails
Aka, how to name animals in German. I used to study German at school and while I’m not a big one for publishing infographics on this here blog of mine, there’s no harm in linking to one.

Seriously, this is brilliant.

3. Beautiful Brands on Instagram

Beautiful Instagram Brands

The value of branded activity on Instagram is still very much a point of argument amongst the marketing folk of today. Does it drive any meaningful value? Can you actually measure anything? Why are we bothering? – are all questions that float around when this comes up for discussion, and you really have to know your onions to formulate a decent response.

If you don’t know your onions and want to know more about how Instagram can ‘work’ for brands, the blog of those folk at Nitrogram is a good place to start. There’s a ton of stuff to read up on and, if you’re looking for inspiration, they’re latest post isn’t a bad read at all.

4. Faking Cultural Literacy

It’s not lying, exactly, when we nod knowingly at a cocktail party or over drinks when a colleague mentions a movie or book that we have not actually seen or read, nor even read a review of. There is a very good chance that our conversational partner may herself be simply repeating the mordant observations of someone in her timeline or feed. The entire in-person exchange is built from a few factoids netted in the course of a day’s scanning of iPhone apps. Who wants to be the Luddite who slows everything down by admitting he has never actually read a Malcolm Gladwell book and maybe doesn’t exactly understand what is meant by the term “Gladwellian” — though he occasionally uses it himself?

This, from the New York Times, is remarkably spot on.

Go read it.

Properly.

Without skimming.

The final paragraph is a knock-out.

5. Gorgeous Art, at High Speed

From this:

High speed art before

To this:

High Speed Art

Cool, right?

Made to been seen at high speeds, these colorful patterns form a sequential whole for commuters whizzing by at top speed. Dubbed ‘Psycholustro’, the artist (Katharina Grosse) created the work as a way to ‘engage everyday travelers with a project that addresses their in-motion perspective and the passage of time’.

I think it’s awesome and, bizarrely enough, similar to an idea I had for the Channel Tunnel when I was nine years old.

It’s OK, I’m pretty sure she didn’t copy me.

 

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Five things on Friday #65

Things of note for the week ending March 28th, 2014.

Kuratas

1. Kuratas is coming to get you
This is nuts.

Above photo via The Verge.

2. 8 bit Fight Club
Remarkably well done.

3. The Seven Best Games for Non-Gamers
I’m a gamer. I make no secret of that. From original Super Mario Bros on my NES, to games on my phone to my PlayStation 4, I’ve been a gamer for as long as I can remember. But not everyone else has. So, in fear of being told they’re ‘like a dog at the controls of a helicopter‘ what can those people play? Well, fortunately enough, Kotaku has put such a list together. Worth reading.

4. The second best Lorde cover EVER  [CLOWN KLAXON]
Last month I showed off a video of Puddles the Clown covering the Lorde hit ‘Royals’. And it was spectacular. Well, he’s back. This time covering ‘Team’ and it too is bloody fantastic.

5. The Instagram Bazaar
While we’re on a ‘Five things rewind!’ trip, back in Five things #56, I mentioned a nifty little trend in Middle Eastern e-commerce in the shape of using Instagram to sell sheep. Well, it would seem that this trend has gone global. Not the sheep-selling aspect, but the small-business-using-Instagram-as-a-shop-window element is taking off stateside, as this article from the New York Times reports -

Beverly Hames, owner of the shop [Fox & Fawn], said she began posting items on Instagram as an experiment a year and a half ago. Now, sales deriving from those postings make up 20 to 40 percent of the store’s daily revenue, she said, and they come from all over the country and occasionally from overseas.

Markets in everything indeed. When all the talk is about how the lack of paid budget will slowly push the little guy out, there are small businesses all across the world cutting corners and capitalising on any and every opportunity possible.

Fair play to them.

 

 

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Ads on Instagram are already here. But are they legal?

Place your bets now please…

The facts:

  • The Facebook-owned photo-sharing site, Instagram, does not have a business model (yet).
  • ‘Official’ ads will be coming soon (if on hold), but celebrities (and their sponsors) aren’t waiting around.
  • The US Federal Trade Commission state that ads on social media must be labelled as such*.

With those key points in tow, let’s take a look at a few recent examples of how ads have begun to appear on the this particular social network -

EXAMPLE 1:  Lebron James, Nike

Copy: ‘These are simply the best!! Ultra comfy and can wear them with anything. I’m ordering 100 pair right now. #kicks #Nike #family’

Is this an ad? It could be deemed as such, certainly. Is Lebron James sponsored by Nike? Definitely. Is ‘endorsement of product across social media’ part of his contract? Maybe. This is something I’ve talked about before. In short: how do social media advertising rules work when it comes to sponsorship deals? Should this image have an #ad tag?

Let me know in the comments.

EXAMPLE 2. Kim Kardashian, Sun Kissed

Copy: ‘Sprayed tonight after watching KKTM! My legs are soooo dark! Loving Kardashian SunKissed! #AvailableAtUlta’

If this isn’t an ad, then I really don’t know what is. Let’s review -

  1. We’ve got a CLEAR product shot!
  2. We’ve got a a massive ENDORSEMENT (Kim’s ‘LOVING’ it guys).
  3. Finally, that final hashtag? Oh, hi there call to action. How you doin’?

All of these elements add up to a clear piece of advertising. Is it marked up as such? No. While you could argue that KK is endorsing her own products here (so no money has officially changed hands, and this is technically not actually ‘paid for’ advertising) and therefore she’s exempt from the advertising guidelines… but still, it’s a grey area at best.

EXAMPLE 3: Nicole Richie, Suave
(image via Ad Age)

Copy: ‘Ad: My new don’t-leave-home-without-it product? Moroccan Infusion Styling Oil from @SuaveBeauty! Check out ways to add brilliant shine to your style here: bit.ly/XDJOkp’

OK, so this works. Finally someone is using the ‘Ad’ tag properly when it comes to advertising via earned media – hurrah! The interesting point here is that the brand in question has gone on record and said that the above image was indeed part of the existing partnership between the company and Ms Richie. Again, making things even clearer. Perfect.

——  So what can we learn from this?

There are three things at play here -

1. Without a business model, Instagram, and therefore Facebook, is clearly missing out on potentially lucrative ad dollars being bought and sold on their network.

2. Celebrities, and their sponsors, are getting smarter, faster.

3. In the same way that the ASA took Snickers and Nike to tribunal here in the UK, I wouldn’t be surprised if the FTC went knocking on the doors of a few US-based brands in the very near future.

It sounds so obvious when you say it out loud but, when it comes to paid-for endorsements on social media, clarity and transparency are key.

 

*Here in the UK, the ASA have a similar policy but the terms regarding disclosures are not as explicit.

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Short stories on Instagram

I’ve been writing short stories on Instagram.

I’m not really sure why, but it’s just something that has started happening recently, since my last haircut in fact (which is an odd way for things to start but still). I remember the hairdresser handing me a copy of the latest GQ magazine and thinking ‘Ugh, I haven’t read this since I was a teenager’.

But then I opened it and started browsing – ‘I’ve got nothing else to do for the next 40mins, why not?’ – and I found an amazing and quite lengthy article about Philip K. Dick. Prolific science fiction author, futurist and drug user (I would be amazed if you’d never heard of him or of any of the films that are based on his works), I’d never read anything about him, the man, before and it was just completely mind-stretching.

I really can’t remember the full ins and outs of the actual piece (quotes etc) and you’re a better man than I if you can find anything relating to the piece on the GQ website but what I do remember is the way they described Dick’s imagination and the way he viewed the world in which we live.

It really did blow my mind.

The guy was a mental case, a drug-[ab]using* genius and yet, his imagination was – and still is – ridiculously inspiring. That article, on top of this additional piece from Warren Ellis, entitled ‘How To See The Future‘, is pushing my brain in new directions and it is awesome.

On the way home that afternoon, I was on the look out for a decent Empty Underground shot or three and I spotted this:

Inspired, on Instagram

‘That’s cool’, I thought ‘reminds me of the use of amber, from [the TV series] Fringe‘. Then I boarded my tube and started typing. I don’t know what the character limit is on Instagram images, I’m yet to find it. But what I am finding is that being able to go over and above 140 characters is somewhat freeing.

My imagination takes me to all kinds of places…

I wrote:

—————-

Emergency tube closure.
Large rats, the size of cattle, have been reported roaming the tunnels at Oxford Circus. These orange panels, an emergency procedure in place since 1997, are actually made up of a thick orange sinew. Frequently mistaken as a deterrent to the unbelievably large rodents, the panels – also known as ‘honey squares’ – are actually covered on one side with a sickly sweet, yet dangerously poisonous, honey-like coating. This honey trap, if you will, lures the wildrats out of their dark dens and snares them with their hypnotic flavour.

Death occurs merely minutes after first contact. All that remains is for a clean up team to dispose of the captured carcass and reopen the station to the public. The whole process takes approximately one hour.

Quite remarkable really.

—————-

I’ve been writing short stories on Instagram. I’m not really sure why, but what I can tell you is that they’re inspired by Philip K Dick and Warren Ellis.

More short stories –

The Witness

Another World

Sentient Life

Emergency Tube Closure

-

A bit similar to my N8 project from last year, this time it’s with Instagram.

 

*user or abuser? The word is undecided. He took the drugs to push himself, and his work, into new dimensions. Surely, for him at least, that’s not abuse; that’s using them exactly what they’re for. 

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Social Media Strategy

Here endeth the lesson -

via

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