Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Pheed me, Seymour - with Popcorn?

Seymour & Audrey II from Little Shop of Horrors, 1986
Just when you thought it was safe to get comfortable in the social media pool, here comes another start-up.

Pheed Me

What makes Pheed different from other social networks is that you get all the regular content you can add (pictures, video, audio, etc.), and in addition, you can add voice notes, audio clips, and live broadcasting. This means you can create your own annotated director's cut of videos or have your own digital live talkshow. Pretty cool, yes?

Pheed is getting some press because it offers subscribers an opportunity to better control who sees what and monetize their content more easily, so celebrities are exploring it. If I had to guess, I'd say the model is like when Louis C.K. decided to allow people to buy one of his comedy specials online for the el cheapo price of $5, which included multiple viewings or downloads.

You can choose to put your content behind a paywall with subscriptions or do pay-per-view. Or free, of course. You decide whether or not to charge and what to charge. Whatever you decide to charge, Pheed gets 50% of the gross.

They have an FAQ on their HELP page which explains their thinking: http://help.pheed.com/

Mozilla Popcorn

I got the email about Pheed the same day I got an email about Mozilla Popcorn and I found it interesting because they both provide ways to provide more interactive richness into your content. Popcorn consists of three different pieces:

  • Popcorn.js - a javascript framework for developers using HTML5
  • Learn Popcorn - a community of people using Popcorn authoring for innovation in web-based storytelling
  • Popcorn Maker - the interactive authoring program for non-coders
I'm assuming most of you will be interested in the latter or maybe Learn Popcorn, if you're interested in documentaries, videos, and filmmaking. Popcorn Maker doesn't launch until next month and the try-it-out stuff on the main page is a little confusing to navigate, so a full rundown on it will have to wait.

In the meantime, you can check out what they've currently got to say at http://mozillapopcorn.org/

It's hard to say that either Pheed or Popcorn will be a game changer. What's certain is that the tech world is continuing to evolve with Apple mini-sizing their iPad and Google adding new tech to their mix-and-match products. I'd say the focus remains on mobile, but the menu for delivering content will have more choices on it.

Things continue to be interesting.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Are You Present On Your Own Account?

Contemporary Terra Cotta Warrior by Yue Minjun
 at the Exhibition, Pete and Repeat
Maybe because I'm an INTP, I hate repeating myself. But I also know that it takes a while for an idea to sink in. More than twenty, maybe thirty repetitions are required to really remember something. Content can get stale, like bread, but there's still a market for a look-alike loaf. How many times can you rephrase that, in social media, one has to be authentic and engaged? I guess as many as it takes, because some people still don't get it.

Are You Present On Your Own Account?

Today I saw a tweet that asked: If you're a big brand & you're not going to respond, what's the point of having a Twitter account? Pretty much no reason because no one will continue to knock on a door that never seems to open.

These days, a lot of the bigger brands have an account on almost every social media platform there is. But they aren't present. They're not monitoring, they're not responding, they're using robo-posts. To paraphrase Truman Capote, that's not engaging, that's typing.

You Can't Spam Yourself to Success

I got a phone call from a client who asked me to craft a tweet that he could send out to Hollywood celebrities known to be interested in green technologies because he had an idea to sell them. I tried to explain that the kind of tweets he's talking about are considered spam on Twitter. He said he didn't care; he just wanted to get it in front of them or their assistant. I told him that these people get a LOT of tweets with their names on them and it wasn't likely they would see his among all of the others unless he sent them multiple times on a daily basis and that was definitely spam. He ignored that and kept on talking.

I get that he's got a great idea and he's anxious to get it in front of people. But as fast as Twitter moves, getting your bona fides there is still a slow process. It's really kind of ironic, but as quick as communicating on social media can be, gaining the trust of those communities still requires time and effort: authenticity and engagement. In my experience there's no short-cut, unless you're lucky enough to create content that goes viral - something that's worth sharing.

Don't Ask for Favors Before Their Time
Hello,
My name is [   ] and I am a PR assistant for [  ]
 
a bilingual NPO based in Japan. We are a website trying to become a place for many social projects, businesses, and individuals to come a connect with each other. We want to be a resource that gives people a chance to help charities through whatever method is available to them, be it partnerships, facebook and twitter shares, money, or even sponsorship We are still young but we are working hard to grow. I am new to working in a non-profit setting, and I am emailing you in hopes that you can help us grow and improve. 
This email went on for three or four more paragraphs and included links to various sites where their founder had been quoted or interviewed, plus there were a couple of PDF attachments. I didn't delete it because I thought I might get around to looking into it more, but I haven't had the time or been motivated to make the time. It's obviously part of a scattergun approach to finding possible connections, nothing personal about it. Maybe if they'd included a pic of this noob looking like a big-eyed puppy I might have taken more of a look.

The Lizard King Said...

...people are strange when you're a stranger and that applies to social communications. But they want to be nice and help if they can. They want to connect. That's why they're there. They just want to know that you see them as people, too.

Be real and be engaging. It's probably worth repeating.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Helping Others See What You Mean Through Infographics

Infographics are neat. They can really take data and condense it so that you can actually see what the data means. Note: The one I'm using here is about internet use and was created by looking at the data from a study commissioned by Google.

Who Uses the Internet Best?
From: OEDb.org
Why Infographics?

Because they're visual. When they're used in conjunction with an article, you capture two audiences - the ones who prefer reading for learning and the ones who prefer visuals for learning. And they complement one another by filling in the blanks, so to speak, for both audiences.

Other reasons for using infographics include:

  • They're eye-catching: if someone is looking at your website, an infographic will quickly capture their attention
  • Infographics are often easy to digest, so people in a hurry don't mind looking them over
  • They're portable - put your logo and address on your infographic and they will go where the graphic goes, which can mean more traffic (this can be especially true if you make the code for embedding the graphic available)
  • If your infographic proves popular, it will improve your search rank in Google searches

How Might You Use Infographics?

Use information you've been collecting to:
  • Compare and contrast (as this infographic does under the 2012 Scores)
  • Show growth or slowdown over time
  • Make impossibly large numbers more accessible (like those in space, for example)
  • If the subject is dry (like economics), graphics can minimize the yawn factor
  • Show what you looked at and how you evaluated it to come to a conclusion or decision
Things To Look Out For

  • Know who your audience is
  • Create a flowchart to visualize how the information will flow through
  • Know whether you're using a theme (like sinking ships) or not. These can be powerful, telling your story at a glance, if used well
  • Decide if you're going to use a reference graphic to condense data, add consistency, or to visually stand in for boilerplate (like a thumbs-up for yes/good and a thumbs-down for no/bad)
  • Keep it as simple as possible; don't clutter things up or get carried away with colors
  • Think about the size of the graphic elements in relation to where you expect the viewer's eye to start, or stick to a design based on a grid
  • Use a typeface that's easy to read and comes in italics, bold, condensed, etc. so you can get the most out of it while keeping the look consistent
Biggest advice: start small. Don't try to take on a complicated infographic when you're just starting out. Data to graphics works best at a one-to-one ratio. You can get fancier as you have more experience and gain more confidence. Study what others are doing and be inspired. Pretty soon, others will be seeing what you mean on a regular basis.

Related Sites:
Visual.ly - a data visualization showcase
Daily Infographic - a new infographic every day
Mashable - Infographics on Pinterest (did you know that in the UK, Pinterest is used mostly for data visualization?)