Monthly Archives: June 2013

How To Turn A Social Media Disaster Into Higher Sales

Lots has been written about the shift in power from brands to consumers. Huge branding campaigns can be negated by one negative action that goes viral in social media. A few months ago, we saw Beam, Inc.’s Maker’s Mark brand tarnished by a decision to water down their whiskey slightly. More recently, Abercrombie & Fitch was hit by a wave of negative publicity when insensitive (and six year old!) remarks by their CEO gained new life in social channels.

Maker's Mark

While marketers may bemoan their loss of control over brand messaging, the news isn’t all bad. One positive aspect is that communications in the new channel can be two way and one-to-one. A customer who is angry at a brand might have simply complained to friends, family, and co-workers in the past. While social media now give the disgruntled customer a larger pulpit, they also give the brand a chance to both learn and interact. In some cases, the brand can fix the problem or at least reduce customer anger instead of letting it fester in relative obscurity.  Read More

Robert Downey Jr. reportedly signs with HTC for $12 million marketing blitz

robert downey jr iron man (Featureflash /

HTC is preparing an extensive two-year marketing campaign featuring Iron Man star Robert Downey Jr, according to two sources who spoke to Bloomberg. The deal is said to be worth $12 million and will span television, print, and billboard advertising around the globe, with Downey maintaining a level of creative control.

HTC has struggled to keep the pace with rival Samsung’s marketing muscle, despitepositive reviews of products such as the flagship One smartphone, and was also recently hit with a series of high-profile departures. The company said last month it had soldaround five million One phones since its March launch, compared to Samsung’s 10 million shipments of the Galaxy S4 in its first month.

“We haven’t been loud enough,” said chief marketing officer Ben Ho in his first meeting with the press this March. Ho added that the company would be retiring its long-serving “Quietly Brilliant” tagline in favor of a campaign based around the themes of “bold,” “authentic,” and “playful.”  Read More

Will Instagram video weed out Vine?

Facebook has unveiled its new video feature for Instagram, five months after Twitter launched a very similar video app called Vine. Can the rival services co-exist?

“They can,” according to analyst Greg Sterling, because Instagram video and Vine serve different audiences, he argued.

The new Instagram feature lets users record videos three to 15 seconds long and apply one of 13 new filters. They can also edit their videos by deleting clips as they record them. And on iOS, the app has a “Cinema” mode to reduce shakiness and produce more professional-looking video.

Vine is a more stripped-down service that records three- to six-second videos, with no filters, editing or image stabilization. Once a video is recorded, users can either save it, upload it or start from scratch.

Vine lets users easily share their videos on its dedicated social network, as well as on Twitter and Facebook; Instagram offers built-in sharing support for Instagram, Facebook and Twitter and also Tumblr and Foursquare.

“Vine is like fast food, while Instagram video is more like eating in a nicer restaurant,” said Ovum analyst Jan Dawson.

Not that there’s anything wrong with that, he said. “Sometimes you just need to grab a burger and get out the door,” he said. “For Vine, it’s like, ‘share and forget.’”

Others said Instagram and Vine don’t serve different audiences as much as they represent two different social networks and their efforts to retain and engage users.

“Vine isn’t necessarily Twitter, and Instagram isn’t necessarily Facebook, but that doesn’t mean these apps aren’t part of the bigger collective [sites],” said Brian Blau, an industry analyst with Gartner.

Social media networks realize that features around photography and video are things they need to have, Blau said.

“Part of what’s going on here is who these companies are and the reach they have, and I think that could really make a difference in terms of the popularity of these features,” he added.

“There’s a lot of room for both Vine and Instagram video, at least in the short term,” said Zachary Reiss-Davis, an analyst with Forrester Research.

“This might be a case where the site that creates the best content wins, and the major social platform providers are all of a sudden becoming content providers,” he said.

So will Instagram video, with all its bling, better enable the creation of that content than Vine?  Read More


Samsung’s ATIV Q tablet runs both Windows 8 and Android Jelly Bean

ATIV Q convertible tablet

ATIV Q convertible tablet from Samsung.

Part of the advantage of having both operating systems in one device is that Windows users can quickly call up Android apps such as Angry Birds by seamlessly toggling back and forth between the two OSs by pushing a button without rebooting, as Samsung officials demonstrated in a London event that was also broadcast via YouTube. A major criticism of Windows 8 has been a relative shortage of apps in the Windows Store, compared to app stores for iOS and Android.

The dual OS concept didn’t make sense to Carolina Milanesi, an analyst at Gartner, even though she liked the ATIV Q design and its ability to convert from tablet to laptop with a foldout keyboard.

“Why would you want both OSs on one device if you wanted to do work and play?” she asked. “To me, this is more about doing technology for the sake of it. The design of the ATIV Q is amazing, but I think it would have done much better in just Windows 8.” She said that while Samsung hasn’t announced the price or other details, she predicted it probably will cost more than buying two tablets, each running a separate OS.

Power users will like having access to both Windows and Android apps, “but I think this concept will be very confusing to the average user,” added Patrick Moorhead, an analyst at Moor Insights and Strategy. “One really positive thing this brings to Windows 8 is the ability to have access to all those Android apps even though are really blown up phone apps.”

Read More

Buffalo cops get new social media rules

Buffalo Police are drawing the line on what officers should post on the internet, specifically regarding social media.

The department issued a nine-page social media policy that all Buffalo Police employees will receive this week. Officers will be required to sign it to declare they know the rules.

Buffalo Police Commissioner Dan Derenda put the policy into effect immediately last Friday, titled “Social Media Model Policy.” It explains that social media can be a valuable police tool, but cautions police personnel that although they are free to express themselves as private citizens, they are cautioned not to disclose their employment with the Buffalo Police Department.

Many Facebook users do post where they are employed, including one Buffalo Police officer whose page we found.

Police are now cautioned not to post their own picture on Facebook, and when it comes to undercover officers they “shall not” post their personal pictures, meaning that with this new policy, undercover officers are now prohibited from doing so.

Derenda would not comment about department’s new policy. We have learned that it was modeled after the NY State Department of Criminal Justice guidelines, and that several other departments have already implemented it.

Buffalo Police Spokesman Mike DeGeorge says this was meant more to clarify and update policies of the past, and police brass explored just how to go about it for the past six months. Police wouldn’t say what prompted the policy change or how many officers are using social media now.  Read More

Stocks, bonds extend slide as China adds to market fears of Fed stimulus pullback

 A day after the Federal Reserve roiled Wall Street when it said it could reduce its aggressive economic stimulus program later this year, financial markets around the world plunged. A slowdown in Chinese manufacturing and reports of a squeeze in the world’s second-biggest economy heightened worries.

The global selloff began in Asia and quickly spread to Europe and then the U.S., where the Dow Jones industrial average fell 353 points, wiping out six weeks of gains.

But the damage wasn’t just in stocks. Bond prices fell, and the yield on the benchmark 10-year note rose to 2.42 percent, its highest level since August 2011, although still low by historical standards. Oil and gold also slid.

“People are worried about higher interest rates,” said Robert Pavlik, chief market strategist at Banyan Partners. “Higher rates have the ability to cut across all sectors of the economy.”

The question now is whether the markets’ moves on Thursday were an overreaction or a sign of volatility to come. What is becoming clearer is that traders and investors are looking for a new equilibrium after a period of ultra-low rates, due to the Fed’s bond-buying, which spawned one of the great bull markets of all time.  Read More

France, Spain take action against Google on privacy

An illustration picture shows a woman holding her Apple Ipad tablet which displays a tactile keyboard under the Google home page in Bordeaux, Southwestern France, February 4, 2013. REUTERS/Regis Duvignau

News that the U.S. National Security Agency under the Prism surveillance program secretly gathered user data from nine U.S. companies, including Google, to track people’s movements and contacts makes the timing especially sensitive for Google.

France’s data protection watchdog (CNIL) said Google had broken French law and gave it three months to change its privacy policies or risk a fine of up to 150,000 euros ($200,000).

Spain’s Data Protection Agency (AEPD) told Google it would be fined between 40,000 euros and 300,000 for five violations of the law, that it had failed to be clear about what it did with data, may be processing a “disproportionate” amount and holding onto it for an “undetermined or unjustified” period of time.

The CNIL, which has been leading Europe’s inquiry since Google launched its consolidated privacy policy in March 2012, said Britain, Germany, Italy and the Netherlands would be taking similar action against the world’s No. 1 search engine.

Google could face fines totaling several million euros.

“By the end of July, all the authorities within the (EU data protection) task force will have taken coercive action against Google,” said CNIL President Isabelle Falque-Pierrotin.

Last year, Google consolidated its 60 privacy policies into one and started combining data collected on individual users across its services, including YouTube, Gmail and social network Google+. It gave users no means to opt out.

National data protection regulators in Europe began a joint inquiry as a result. They gave Google until February to propose changes but it did not make any. Google had several meetings with the watchdogs and argued that combining its policies made it easier for users to understand.

The CNIL’s move is seen by legal experts and policymakers as a test of Europe’s ability to influence the behavior of international Internet companies.  Read More

Gold, Silver ETFs Routed After Fed

SPDR Gold Shares (NYSEArca: GLD) was down 4% and iShares Silver Trust (NYSEArca: SLV) plunged over 6% Thursday morning Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke said the central bank may pull back on economic stimulus this year if the economy and job market continue to improve.

Gold prices fell below $1,300 an ounce for the first time in nearly three years.

“The combination of Fed tapering, a spike in nominal yields and a stronger dollar has put gold under some considerable pressure,” said Ole Hansen, the head of commodity strategy at Saxo Bank, in a Bloombergreport.

GLD, the largest bullion-backed ETF, was down nearly 20% year to date, as of Wednesday’s close. The gold ETF traded twice its normal daily volume on Wednesday, “something you don’t see very often in a name like that,” said Chris Hempstead at WallachBeth Capital.

The gold fund currently holds 99.9.6 metric tons of gold, or $44.1 billion of assets. It started the year with about 1,351 metric tons of gold and $72.2 billion of assets. [Gold ETFs Fall to Key Support Level Before Fed]

GLD’s holdings fell below 1,000 tons on Wednesday for the first time in four years, according to Reuters.

On Wednesday, a huge trade in the $8.2 billion iShares Gold Trust (NYSEArca: IAU) caught the attention of ETF traders late in the session, according to Dow Jones Newswires. “One block of 1.4 million shares hit the tape at 3:50 p.m,” it said. Read More

How Vine Climbed to the Top of the Social Media Ladder


In April, when bombs ripped through the finish line of the Boston Marathon, there was a defining visual of the explosion that went viral online. It wasn’t a photograph, though, or a YouTube video; instead, it was a short, looping video called a Vine. Owned by Twitter and launched in January, Vine is to short videos what Instagram is to snapshots: You shoot, edit, and share clips, all through a mobile app. As Boston showed, Vine has quickly become an integral part of online culture. Wired chatted with the service’s three young founders—Rus Yusupov, Dom Hofmann, and Colin Kroll—about how Vine grew up.

WIRED: Tell us about the original idea.

Dom Hofmann:We wanted to build a tool that would easily cut video shots together. That’s really all it was. It crashed a lot, but we gave it to our friends and they liked it.

WIRED: So at the beginning, Vine didn’t limit you to six seconds.

Hofmann: It began with unlimited time. But when we saw our friends trying to share their videos over text message, we realized that it needed a social component—and that meant we needed to make it quick to share and view.

Colin Kroll: We didn’t want our users to sit there looking at spinners all day, so we needed a smaller file size.

Hofmann: We tried a bunch of different lengths—first five seconds, then 10 seconds, and some lengths in between. Eventually we realized that time wasn’t really the problem. People just slightly underestimate how long it takes to shoot. So we settled on six seconds, but we let people shoot a half second more if they need it. Once we did that, everyone had way more luck getting their ideas across.

WIRED: What about the loops?

Hofmann: As soon as we started limiting the length, we noticed that the videos started to feel anticlimactic. So we put in a tweak to make them loop. As soon as we got that working, we could tell it was a defining feature—really, one of our two defining features, the other being the time limit.  Read More

Social Media And Istanbul’s Protests: Four Things You Need To Know

Keep Calm and #DuranAdam

Keep Calm and #DuranAdam

This past Saturday, police forces lined up outside of Istanbul’s Gezi Park — the center of a three week protest against Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan — gave warning, and moved in.

In a matter of hours, the massive encampment set up by thousands of demonstrators was torn apart and emptied of people. As police and protesters then clashed throughout the rest of the city, workers disposed of what remained in the park.

With still Gezi empty, social media, used extensively in the demonstrations’ early days, now plays an even more important role. With no central location to coordinate action and spread information, the protesters are using it to fill the void left behind. Here are four things you should know about that use:

1. Post-Gezi, Social Gives The Protests Life After Gezi Park was cleared, the Turkish government made clear that subsequent protests there and in the nearby Taksim Square would not be tolerated. “From now on the state will unfortunately have to consider everyone who remains there a supporter or member of a terror organization,” said Turkey’s EU Minister Egemen Bağış, referring to Taksim. The warning was enough to keep the masses away until a man named Erdem Gunduz decided to take a risk, standing motionless in Taksim Square for hours in silent protest. After people caught on to what Gunduz was up to, they started tweeting about it. Soon, #duranadam, meaning standing man, was the world’s top Twitter trend. Hundreds joined Gunduz in the square that night, standing still beside him and risking arrest. Gunduz was eventually detained and then let go, but his simple act of dissent turned into a new form of national protest and others around Turkey staged #duranadam protests of their own. If the protests are to press on, this will be the way they do it.

2. Twitter is Everywhere With Turkish mainstream news sources falling short in their coverage of the demonstrations, the protesters have hooked themselves to Twitter like an IV. I visited Gezi Park last weekend and, at the conclusion of a number of conversations, the people I was speaking with popped smartphones out of their pockets and immediately loaded Twitter, looking to keep up with the latest developments. One had even downloaded the app but logged into a friends account, not ready to join Twitter himself yet understanding the need to be on it.  Read More

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