When 140 characters isn’t enough

April 29th, 2016

Sometimes the 140-character limit that Twitter provides just isn’t enough space. Individuals often run into the problem of running out of space in order to get their message across. But what’s worse, believe it or not, is that many companies are faced with the same issue, which can hinder their ability to effectively reach out to consumers. So what are the loopholes to this 140-character debacle?

Twitter probably could have implemented a click-to-expand feature, but most users wouldn’t click through, which would defeat the purpose of getting a message across. SocialTimes offered a few useful solutions:

1. Informational graphic ads

Many companies have taken this route in marketing their brand. Graphic ads are effective because they offer all of the most important information users should see, but also incorporate color and images, which inclines users to click. GIFs are graphic ads, and who doesn’t look a good GIF? Applebee’s uses this tactic more often than not and it’s proven to be very successful.

Here’s a link to Applebee’s Twitter page, so you can get a taste of the restaurant’s informational graphics.

2. Click to view

Flonase took a unique spin on your typical click-to-view graphic. Instead of prompting users to simply click on a link in order to seek more information, Flonase created these:

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The click-to-find out graphic is effective because it takes an interactive spin on embedded links that blatantly ask readers to click.

There might not be much hope for us individual tweeters who need more than 140 characters to get our message out there, but commercial brands are surely finding ways to break that mold. And hey, we still use GIFs, pictures, videos, etc. to help us out, so I suppose all hope isn’t lost.

SocialTimes delves deeper into the topic here.


Get paid to watch GoT at work

April 15th, 2016

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Your boss sends out a mass e-mail telling you that when you come in to work tomorrow, you don’t have to get busy right away. Instead, you can stream Game of Thrones and take the morning to relax and catch up on the season premier. Is this a test? Is he okay? Should I fall for it? Is John Snow dead? How are Khaleesi’s dragons? Winter is coming!

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A paid half-day of work to catch up on Game of Thrones? I don’t know about you, but I wouldn’t complain.

British technology firm +rehabstudios grants its employees one morning a year to catch up on the season premier of Game of Thrones. Founding partner Tim Rodgers told Mashable the reaction has been “amazing.”

The company was in the midst of updating its handbook when founders decided they wanted to add an extra perk. This year, it’s Game of Thrones; although some employees have asked if the perk can apply to other shows like The Walking Dead, which is totally okay. Next year the perk could be something completely different, Rodgers explained, and employee suggestions are welcome.

Game of Thrones is filmed in Belfast, Ireland, which is where +rehabstudios started, so the connection to GoT has always been present.

2000px-Game_of_Thrones_ratings_histogram.svgLet’s face it, the show has gained serious international popularity and +rehabstudios has both UK and US bases/employees, so it only seemed right to offer this perk.

(US employees are reminded not to post any spoilers, of course, before the premier reaches the UK.)

Hopefully this is the beginning of a workplace movement… I know I’d be a happy camper knowing there would be a day of work dedicated to catching up on one of my favorite shows.

Get all the deets here.


Facebook is live, are you?

April 8th, 2016

In a post by SocialTimes author David Cohen, important tips were shared on how to better your use of the new Facebook Live feature.

Let me back up. Facebook now offers a live feature, where its users can essentially interact with their friends in the moment. Being able to do this might seem completely unnecessary, but it gives users the opportunity to respond to comments, reactions, etc. immediately. The feature is especially useful for private groups and events because several members can be live at the same time and interact this way within the confines of the group. It’s nice knowing that you don’t necessarily need a separate app like Skype in order to connect with people, and unlimited users can go live at the same time.

If you ask me, the feature is less appealing because we have things like Facetime (iPhone owners), but I must admit, it would be nice to have a sort of group video chat that’s as easy to access as opening up your Facebook app.

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A few notable Facebook Live practices:

  1. Ask friends and followers to sign up for notifications so that they are aware of your Facebook Live offerings.
  2. Post a description of what you are about to share before going live.
  3. Respond to comments by saying hello and mentioning the names of users who comment.

It’s as simple as that- you might just need to practice. Another tip the SocialTimes article suggests is that you use Facebook Live often and try different things.

Read more on the subject here.


Another Great, in the books

February 26th, 2016

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Nelle Harper Lee passed away at the age of 89 on Feb. 19- and what a loss it is.

Mashable commemorated the author’s passing by plucking a handful of unforgettable quotes from Harper Lee’s most renowned novel, “To Kill a Mockingbird”. (Some of which sixteen-year-old me hand-picked and scribbled down, too.)

I know a lot of people who don’t like “To Kill a Mockingbird”. You might be one of them. Is it because you were *forced* to read it in high school? Because it’s ancient? Because it’s been challenged/banned countless times over the years?

What these people (or even you) might have missed is how genuine this novel is. I know this because I’ve read it not once, not twice, but three times. Granted, the first time for me was in high school. I decided to read it the second time because my younger brother also had to read it for his high school English class, so I wanted to play along because I remembered how good it was. The third time I picked up “To Kill a Mockingbird” was two weeks ago- coincidentally, a week before Harper Lee passed away. I was re-reading it in preparation for Lee’s sequel, “Go Set a Watchman”, that was released in June 2015.

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The sequel was said to be the 2015’s biggest hit, with fans swarming outside of bookstores before the midnight release. Imagine how much impact a novel must have in order to get people so riled up for its sequel fifty-five years later.

Harper Lee taught me several life lessons in just a few words. She gave timeless advice to her characters, who translated that to her readers. This is hard for some authors to do, but Harper Lee had a way of getting the message across simply and candidly in “To Kill a Mockingbird”.

Here are a few of my personal favorites, drawn from Mashable’s article. (View the full list here.)

  • “Atticus, he was real nice.”
    “Most people are, Scout, when you finally see them.”
  • “Atticus told me to delete the adjectives and I’d have the facts.”
  • “Things are always better in the morning.”
  • “Mockingbirds don’t do one thing but make music for us to enjoy. They don’t eat up people’s gardens, don’t nest in corncribs, they don’t do one thing but sing their hearts out for us.
    That’s why it’s a sin to kill a mockingbird.”

With that, thank you, Harper Lee, for your unforgettable writing and wisdom. Another Great, in the books.

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Change is good

February 17th, 2016

After finishing the News U course from this week, I learned that my blog might not be as appealing or effective for my users as I thought it was. I liked how it looked before, but I understand why changes need to happen.

1. More visuals:

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I realized that I can rant about the same thing for a while, rewording it in a million different ways- beating around the bush, if you will. I learned that it’s important to include enough visuals to keep my readers entertained and moving about the page. In fact, News U specifically said, “it’s important to help users visually navigate a page.” This is so true. I tried to sprinkle an image within each blog post, but sometimes that isn’t enough. A random user might happen upon my blog, immediately look at the picture, read a sentence or two, and carry on to the next site. What I need is a little more multimedia, if I can find the right stuff to accompany my posts. A variety of images could become overwhelming, since I’m only posting once a week on one specific topic, however. I think a great way of moving a user’s eyes down the page is to simply switch up font size, color, boldness, etc. Obviously not too much, but j u s t enough to make someone move onto the next item.

2. Identify audience: I needed to figure out what my audience wants. Why are you visiting my blog? I came up with two possibilities:

  • You are here because you have to be here, for the sake of your grade in Journalism 347. My posts should be interesting enough to an audience my age, with plenty of graphics, a touch of humor and a short-and-to-the-point structure. Since a professor is visiting weekly, I must also keep my posts relevant and intelligent. It’s all about balance.
  • You are here because you are genuinely interested in what I’ve discovered in recent weeks. Probably not as likely, since my blog thus far is pretty sparse, but a girl can dream, can’t she? If this is the case, I need to remain at least a little professional and clearly define a hierarchy of audience wants/needs. Including hot topics from my Feedly sources, rather than things only I am interested in might be an effective way to hold my audience’s attention.

I determined that the latter is less likely, so from here on out, I plan on molding my blog to fit the wants/needs of my audience who has to visit… aka, you guys.

3. Chunking: Breaking up stories into separate pieces is effective for audience engagement. It allows users to locate and read what they want, based on their idea of what is most interesting or important. I tried utilizing this technique in this post by numbering, providing lists and highlighting subheadings. I found a great page that delves a little deeper into the effectiveness of chunking and how to properly carry out the technique. Click here to read more.

4. Theme: The last thing I did was change the overall appearance of my blog. Before, it was a muted, pastel and fair grey color scheme, with really small font. I liked the minimalist look, but I opted for a different color palette, with more contrast between the text and the background. With this new theme, the text size is also larger, making it more readable.


Apple steals touchscreen technology

February 13th, 2016

How ballsy would it be to sue a multi-billion dollar franchise like Apple? It’s been done several times before and it is happening again. This, however, involved a patent infringement case.

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Writer for Mashable.com, Kellen Beck further discussed the lawsuit in this article.

The company, Immersion, stated that the iPhone 6, iPhone 6 Plus, 6S, 6S Plus and Apple Watch used its patented technologies in their touch systems, including vibration feedback for different touches and previews of actions at a light touch.

Immersion has filed several complaints against other technology companies including Sony, Google, Microsoft and a few others. They won in all three of the above cases.

While the company is flattered that others are interested in furthering their haptic technologies, “Immersion said it is seeking damages for the infringement as well as a cease-and-desist order to stop the products from being sold in the U.S.”

Apple declined to comment, as they are currently facing other charges for errors within their iPhones as well as issues regarding iOS 9.

I suppose Immersion hasn’t gone completely mad in making such claims because they have won in similar cases multiple times before. It just doesn’t seem plausible for a significantly smaller company to go after a name with as much international popularity as Apple, which has a market value of $605 billion.

To read more in Immersion’s press release, click here.


Playboy replaces Photoshop with Snapchat and selfies

February 5th, 2016

After scrolling violently through my Feedly, trying to locate an article that both resonated with me and felt relevant to this class, I finally found it. Playboy. Hear me out- this ended up being totally worth analyzing.

The RSS feed for FishbowlNY, constructed by Richard Horgan, shared a post yesterday about Playboy’s first non-nude Playmate, Dree Hemingway (great-granddaughter of American novelist Ernest Hemingway). The article touched on some really good points.

First, let’s state the obvious. Playboy is known for its risque photo shoots, centerfolds and racy ads. Its famous tagline, “Entertainment for Men” has graced the cover of every issue since 1953. Not anymore.

In October, Playboy announced that the magazine would be undergoing a major remodel. In with the new and out with the nude. (Not really; full-nudity will still exist, just a little more concealed.) As the magazine said goodbye to its old look with its final full-nudity issue featuring Pamela Anderson, it was saying hello to a completely new version of itself. That’s where Hemingway comes in, as well as the new design tactic Playboy selected.

Playboy released an advance copy of its March ’16 issue and these were my first reactions:

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  1. Snapchat font, is that you??
  2. Is this girl really taking a selfie?
  3. She is beautiful, but looks a little young and innocent for Playboy. What gives?

The more I thought about it, the more I realized these choices make a lot of sense. A large part of Playboy’s strategy in revamping itself is to appeal to a younger crowd.

  1. Snapchat is like the face of the millennial generation. At first I immediately thought how cheap and cheesy this looked, but after further review, it kind of nails exactly what the magazine is trying to do. While it still appears a little aesthetically tacky, it instantly makes the image more relatable. This text is highly recognizable and super accessible; anyone between the ages of 15-35 could probably name its origin.
  2. The selfie. This, too, makes a lot of sense. Our generation lives and breathes selfies. The term was even added the Merriam-Webster Dictionary. The composition of this image is almost an obvious choice. We are so used to seeing photographs that include one arm sticking out of the frame, that this particular photo shouldn’t even faze us. I’m a little ashamed to admit that I didn’t think twice about it until I found the NY Times article that this post stemmed from.
  3. The vast majority of Playboy’s past Playmates (try saying that ten times fast) might have been young, but were so overly airbrushed and sexily posed that readers didn’t view them that way. Now, with this new approach, models in the magazine look less retouched, therefore not as aged, if you will. That’s because they are. Playboy stated that with the remodel, they planned on making the magazine look more refined, contemporary. See ya, Photoshop. The young and innocent look again appeals to the younger crowd, but not based solely on the girls’ appearances. Along with less retouching, Playboy boldly got rid of its cluttered pages that resembled your grandpa’s attic and opted for more white space. Because of mobile accessibility, white space and symmetry have become a more valued layout technique. Not only does it help with readability on a digital screen, but it is much more modern.

This whole thing intrigued me. I am not, nor have I ever been a reader of Playboy. I knew about the remodel because the media covered so much of it. I didn’t necessarily know why or how the magazine would change, but now that I take a closer look, I understand it. Our way of accessing things like magazines has changed drastically due to the digital revolution. The millennial generation is the present and the future of this innovation, so it seems smart to transform things to fit that mold.

Playboy is doing something right, if you ask me. For print, maybe the magazine will struggle with this remodel, but its readership has already decreased since the introduction of digital media, so really, what do they have to lose?

Here is a link to Playboy’s first non-nude Playmate bio: Dree Hemingway

Image taken from NY Times.

 

 


Three

February 1st, 2016

Blogging has become an incredibly useful way for literally anyone who has an interest in anything to get involved in journalism, or a maybe less traditional form of it. It has widened the scope that traditional journalism had been stuck in for so long. Bloggers have really made a name for themselves in recent years. Honestly, how cool would it be to get paid to post on Instagram? I definitely wouldn’t complain. Not only is it a successful way for bloggers to get recognition, but with the increasing amount of individuals using social media and following blogs, blogs get people involved with one another. This is a beautiful thing. It’s awesome to meet people who share common interests. Personally, I’m not an avid blogger, nor do I avidly follow any specific blogs, but that doesn’t mean that I’m anti-blogging. I think it’s great. I think a lot of blogs are great. In fact, I have hopes of starting my own in the near future. Updates on that to come. I’m just not so sure that everyone is cut out for it. In my opinion, blogs should be a balance between personal accounts that are relatable (because relatability is huge) and actual knowledge. So… after a bit of googling, here are the three blogs I chose to get a little more involved with.

Giuliana Rancic

For those of you who like to stay up-to-date with pop culture, celebrity kind of stuff, join me in being really good friends with E! News’ Giuliana Rancic. Giuliana only recently began her blog, so it doesn’t dig too deep into anything yet, but I think it could be good. She’s an entrepreneur, a saleswoman, a mother and wife, an author and most importantly, a journalist! She’s all the things I wish I could be and I’ve been mildly obsessed with her since I was probably twelve, so listing her site as one of my three seemed like a no-brainer. G’s blog is also an add-on to her personal website, where links to her products and business ventures can be found. I have high hopes for the red carpet goddess and her blog.

The Everywhereist

This blog is fun to follow because it’s by a former copywriter, Geraldine, who basically travels the world behind her hardworking husband. You could call it a travel blog, but she writes about things that go much deeper than that- love and loss, having children and being childless, etc. Geraldine is witty, intelligent, down to earth and has a lot to offer as a writer. Overall, 10/10. Worth the follow. Probably, definitely geared toward the ladies. In her bio, Geraldine talks about how the core of this blog is basically just a love letter to her husband, but I find it to be more than that.

Self-Styled Siren

This. Blog. I can’t get enough of it. A Brooklyn woman who goes by the name of The Self-Styled Siren and constantly refers to herself as The Siren in each article she writes started this film blog in ’05. I first stumbled upon it back in June when I was perusing the Internet, probably drooling over celebs or some new movie I saw. (I see a lot.) She wrote an article about the on-again, off-again relationship between Shakespearean actor John Barrymore and his wife, Elaine Barrie. Here’s a link to that article if anyone is interested. It really struck me, for some reason. The Siren has a way of speaking so eloquently. She is so knowledgeable about film, I actually envy her a lot. She has every right in the world to brag about her talents and knowledge, but refrains from doing so.