LIVE (Streaming): Hurricane Updates

With the launch of Facebook Live, we have seen a number of organizations and individuals get on board the live streaming trend. Facebook Live provides the ability for anyone to lives stream video similar to Periscope and Meerkat, video-streaming platforms which allow for questions to be sent in real-time to the user created the video.

With Hurricane Season upon us here in Florida, we need to be sure to monitor the progress of storms and understand the potential impact of each named storm and even depressions. I had wanted to see how various news organizations cover weather conditions so I searched Facebook for various pages related to weather or news generally. Some of these included The Weather Channel, Florida Storms, NOAA, NOAA NWS National Hurricane Center, the New York Times, and CNN. The only three that actually used live streaming to cover weather were The Weather Channel, Florida Storms, and CNN.

Approach

These three organizations took a similar approach to live streaming. CNN was reporting live during Hurricane Hermine so the live stream took on more of a traditional live broadcast approach. The presenter, Mark, gave the current status of the situation and interviewed local kids. The Florida Storms channel really approached its live streaming as a different type of broadcast and did a great job approaching it as a different news forum. Both The Weather Channel and Florida Storms approached the live streaming as an ability to interact with online users.

You can view the live streams here:

https://www.facebook.com/FloridaStorms/videos (Videos for Hurricane Matthew)

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https://www.facebook.com/TheWeatherChannel/videos/vb.118071565920/10154664668635921/?type=2&theater (Videos for Hurricane Matthew)

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https://www.facebook.com/cnn/videos  (Videos for Hurricane Hermine)

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Value

The value in live streaming weather forecasts related to storms is that it allows for users from all over to engage with the presenters and ask questions. This is critical because safety measures and understanding can mean life or death in such emergency situations. Where a topic can be complex and leave laymen with questions, live streaming is able to help so that these questions can be answered. There is also value in reporting live from a storm because it provides a real time picture of how people are being affected and what people are saying and thinking at the scene of the storm.

Techniques for Interacting

Florida Storms and The Weather Channel took questions from users while live streaming. This was likely an attainable technique because the presenters were situated in the newsroom. The Florida Storms live stream was very interactive, with presenters taking questions and actively forming their broadcast around questions and even doodling on the map to better illustrate answers to the questions they were receiving about Hurricane Matthew. The Weather Channel took questions and incorporated answers into their live streaming newscast of Hurricane Hermine. CNN did not utilize any comments for interacting, instead the presenter interacted with people in his immediate surroundings just as in a traditional live broadcast.

Suggestions for Improvement

I would suggest that CNN use comments for interacting with the viewing audience. It would add another level of interaction if users could have posed questions for Mark to ask the local children. Sometimes outsiders are better able to come up with interview questions because they are not in the moment of reporting. I do not have any suggestions for Florida Storms. I thought they the organization did a great job of live streaming.

Thoughts

Overall, each type of presentation has its own value and perspective. As someone who is interested in the path of the storm, I thought that the Florida Storms broadcast exhibited the most value. However, I think that there are many users who will greatly enjoy the CNN broadcast live from the storm as people like to see live action and what is truly going on and affecting people. It is important to note that these live streams featured different storms so it is possible that each channel might use live stream to show the path and projections of the storm as well as live coverage as Hurricane Matthew gets closer to making landfall here in the US.

Google It. Every Time.

Have you ever needed to verify something and turned to the Internet? Did you turn to Google? I bet you did! Google has become a behemoth of a resource for all of us, from citizens to journalists and even government officials. We all Google all the time.

Simply put: Google has singlehandedly transformed the way we collect and verify information.

Google has figured out how to utilize its wealth of tools to verify and provide information that can best illustrate the world around us. We use Google’s search engine to look for universal results yielding all kind of data.

Whether looking to verify a business or person, you might not realize that by searching for that name you are utilizing features of Google+. As Neil Walker says in this article, when someone verifies their information on the Google+ platform “the result is potential social interaction with your audience on a local scale as well as the side benefit of potentially appearing in the local listings within the Universal search results as well as on maps and even the carousel.

Google Earth is one of my favorite tools to use every day. I just love being able to see what the world around me looks like and the distance in between places. However, Google Earth is especially useful for journalists because it allows them to verify whether or not images and videos are in fact from a particular place and event. The way that this is done is through visiting the area on Google Earth and looking for topographical elements such as buildings (especially landmarks), signs, structures, and geographic elements like mountains or rivers. Here is a video tutorial on using Google Earth like a pro, check it out!

italianquakeAn example of using Google Earth for photo verification purposes can be found in one of my previous blog posts on an Italian earthquake. Here, there are before and after images of the town of Amatrice.

Step 1: Locate Amatrice Italy

Step 2: Locate area of clock tower

Step 3: Identify architectural elements

Step 4: Compare images

If you look at the images like this one above, you can see that the local landmarks such as the clock tower are no longer standing but that the elements surrounding where it should have been still match.

Photo verified.

Thanks again, Google!

Facebook: Video Feed or Newsfeed?

Videos are viewed 8 billion times a day on Facebook, up from 1 billion video views per day in 2015, according to Facebook’s vice president for Europe, the Middle East, and Africa. Fortune reported an average of 100 million hours of Facebook videos being watched on mobile devices. This begs the question, is your Facebook truly a ‘newsfeed’ or is it a social feed and soon-to-be ‘visual feed’ or ‘video feed”?

Facebook is using video as a way to increase revenue through emphasizing the medium and allowing publishers to monetize videos. In allowing users and publishers to post branded content, Facebook is opening itself up for more marketing opportunities.

Industry trends are showing a decrease in text each year while there is an increase in visual content like photos and videos. If all things continue, Facebook officials believe that your newsfeed may be almost entirely comprised of videos within five years. Although I disagree that it will be entirely video, I do believe that our newsfeeds will be largely filled with visual content of both images and videos. This is because there are costs associated with video production in both financial and skillset aspects. Videos also take more time to produce and require editing to be short enough in length and of good enough quality that users will engage with them. Users who are interested in content can then click on the video or image source links to find out more information. However, videos will become increasingly popular as they serve to provide news in easy-to-digest portions with essential information.

Not all videos in our newsfeeds will be news. In fact, much of our newsfeed content is fun, adorable, funny, or just plain interesting. This video of baby elephants acting like lapdogs received almost 2.98 million engagements when shared by the Huffington Post. A New York Magazine video entitled “Body Paint Animal Art” received an astounding 2.71 million engagements and was closely followed by another Huffington Post video, this one on cats getting brain freezes. These videos were the top performers provided by publishers on Facebook between March 1 and June 27, 2016.

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Photo: Huffington Post

Did you notice that these were videos that are fun? Did you notice they are lighthearted? Would you say that they are comedic relied? A little laughter and a little “awww” goes a long way in today’s stressful society, and in making social media “social” and fun.

This New York Magazine video on video game exercising received only 182k engagements during that same time. Was it fun? Yes. Did it make me laugh or say “aww”? No. Did I want to send it to my friends? Not particularly. Another video, this one from AJ+ on Australia returning land to its aboriginals, received 196k views. Although it is interesting and cool to know, it isn’t something I necessarily want to share with friends.

It seems to me, we as a society are becoming more social and more inclined to connect online. Therefore, the videos we engage with and love are those that we want to share with our friends and family. These are the videos that are topics you might share over coffee or dinner, things you might take a photo of yourself. If I had a baby elephant in my lap you bet I would take a photo and send it to everyone I know. I can’t say I would say the same about video game exercise.

Facebook: The Flattering Bully

Thirteen years ago, Tom Anderson and Chris DeWolfe brought us Myspace. For those of who remember Myspace, it’s hard to forget “Tom”. He was “friends” with everyone, appearing in everyone’s “friend list” in a small box wearing a plain white t-shirt.

Twelve years ago, Mark Zuckerberg and a group of friends gave us Facebook. Now, unlike Myspace, as users, we are not all “friends” with Mark Zuckerberg. He would be a cool friend to have in your friend circle though, so I can’t say I would mind being able to pick his brain about the behemoth of a social channel.

Ten years ago, four guys gave the world the ability to send messages in 140 characters. Cryptic? Maybe to some. Morse code? No.

Twitter. In 2006, we began tweeting. Or as grandparents all over the world say, “twittering” or using “the tweeter”.

Six years ago, the world was introduced to Instagram. Millions of users took to the platform to share our photos and videos. We started using “filters” to edit images and took to hashtagging like with Twitter. Then it seems, we became so fascinated with images and filters that we embraced something new.

Drum roll, please. Snapchat. Five years ago, the application of disappearing content began to take the world by storm. Snapchat originated under the name “Picaboo”, just as Twitter began as “Odeo” and many others were born under different names. The goal of Picaboo was to provide a way to send messages to others that disappeared. If you are keen to pay attention to connotation, the goal of the application was to provide a platform for content that was “explicitly short-lived”, if you get what I’m saying.

So now, we have other platforms like Meerkat and Periscope that allow for live video broadcasting which have influenced the likes of Facebook. Over the next ten years, it will be increasingly difficult for new platforms to gain a foothold. Although future founders will have great ideas, they will be bullied into selling way before their time. The biggest bully in the social media marketplace is Facebook. Facebook is the Donald Trump of social media. Facebook is the guy who buys everyone’s property in the game of Monopoly and puts up hotels. Simply put, Facebook can put your idea in business or put you out of business.

In 2012, Kevin Systrom and Mark Kreiger sold Instagram to Facebook for $1 billion. Not a year later, Facebook tried to buy the ability to send explicitly short-lived photos from Snapchat for $3 billion. Snapchat owners Evan Piegel and Bobby Murphy didn’t sell. They are, in effect, the two younger siblings so used to be pushed around that it wasn’t unbearable because they had hope, like all younger siblings have.

Last year, there was a lot of speculation that Facebook would make a particular purchase. Then, this year, Facebook introduced live broadcasting. Original idea? No. Another idea popping up just like a Meerkat, or should I say Periscope? If Facebook does not buy your idea from you, Facebook will copy you. He is the older sibling in the game of Monopoly who puts a hotel up just before your property just because you added one to yours.

They say that copying is the highest form of flattery. The next ten years are sure to make Facebook the most flattering bully out there.

Social Media and News

The news article that I chose for this assignment was this article (Links to an external site.) on yesterday’s earthquake in Italy. It was posted by CNN today under the headline “Before and after photos show impact of Italy’s earthquake” and featured and image of the earthquake. The first few lines featured read, “A 6.2-magnitude earthquake struck central Italy early Wednesday morning, toppling buildings and killing at least 241 people.” The inverted pyramid strategy used provided me with valuable information and provided me with a clear picture of why this is newsworthy without having to do any further reading. The article also included engaging videos of rescuers pulling a girl from rubble.

It also used powerful quotes like, “They know right now it’s a race against time. They believe it’s about 72 hours those people would be able to survive.” Experts and witnesses were interviewed, providing a clear picture of what is going on and made the disaster feel so much closer to home than it is.

The story also used the previously mentioned before and after photos to show the changes in landscape. The words that accompanied the photos were my favorite part about the photos shared in the body of the article. The pictures were powerful, and yet, the words made them even more impactful. The first series of photos stated, “The Clock Tower Still Stands”. The caption was “A clock tower in the center of the mountainous town of Amatrice is frozen at 3:36 a.m. — the time the earthquake struck.” Those two sentences really hit me. They made the situation all the more real. CNN properly attributed ownership to the photos, as was discussed in lecture.

The story was told from a hard news approach but incorporated many human elements, making it feel like more of a feature. The videos and photos really made the whole story come full-circle. It was hearing from rescuers, witnesses, experts, and victims in the video and the before and after photos shown that made the story come alive.

Architecture and Traffic Control

Like the image of air traffic above, the world of social media can appear chaotic. However, that doesn’t mean that social media platform cannot be used to organize and manage brand architecture.

In fact, social media can be leveraged to keep brand names and products in order, generate opportunities for increased exposure, and consistent branding.

I like to think of social media managers as air traffic controllers; showing people where to go, when to go there, what to do there, and what other options there are to get somewhere.

brands

A branded house like Coca-Cola can easily manage a suite of brands on a minimal number of platforms because all brands use the same name. On the other hand, a house of brands will likely use multiple channels to organize the various name products under different brands, but utilize them to direct traffic flow and image branding.

Right between those two kinds of branding is endorsed branding, or sub-branding, which gives credibility and substance to the offering. Regardless of the type of branding being used, social media can help to organize the so-called “family tree” through using different channels as vehicles to carry out a strategic approach to management.

For example, where a brand has made one of its objectives identifying and investing in the fewest number of brands needed to meet business goals, it can group several products (say 3 for the sake of this example) under one social media account for a single brand. In doing so, the account may likely have triple the following at maybe one third of the cost. This type of approach to using social media for managing brand architecture can help direct consumer experience and behavior.

The organization of brand names and products under accounts, together with content, directs consumers to experience a particular group of products or services together in a specific way. This effectively creates consistency through a streamlined brand image, all at the direction of the social media manager (the air traffic controller).

By identifying the brand architecture, a social media manager can better direct traffic flow and direct consumers to their perceived destinations.