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.

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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: 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.

Reaching Consumers: Converting Followers to Influencers through Email and Social Media

Email may be beating social media in terms of sales right now, but I think that social media will surpass email in terms of sales results. The sales process consists of the steps that begin with marketer’s initial contact, to planning the sale, assessing needs, presentation, gaining commitment, and finally to the final follow-up. This is fairly easy to see in marketer’s use of social media. Brands can utilize their existing followers, profiles of potential users/followers, and search queries to identify users with whom to make initial contact before planning out their approach. Luckily, company marketing departments no longer have to do all of this themselves, as users often come to them, taking the first step out of the process, and leaving it up to the actual brand to get them to engage and commit to their product or brand. Social media takes the guesswork out of who may or may not be interested.

Facebook users are a great source of third party recommendations that encourage users to put their faith in a brand as well, as users can see when their friends “like” a product or company page. I think that incorporating a Facebook link to a brand Facebook page or product has been a great way for companies to get people to believe in their products.

Facebook has generated leads for 72 percent of Business2Consumer (B2C) marketers and just over 35 percent of leads to Business2Business (B2B) marketers. It is important to use Facebook as 80 percent of social network users have indicated that they prefer using Facebook to connect with brands, making it the most likely channel for generating leads to potential consumers.  I believe that Facebook has tried to compete with email through sponsored ads, marketplace ads, and incorporating the hashtag (to compete with Twitter as it originally did not use the hashtag). These different tactics have allowed Facebook to compete with email in that sponsored stories and stories from brands your friends have “liked” are directly delivered to your newsfeed, similar to email, and can offer coupons or other sales within direct links to drive you to their website.

Additionally, Twitter should be used as more of a platform for engagement, which is a completely different type of marketing all together. However, Twitter users are 3 times more likely to follow brands than Facebook users. With the average Twitter user having more income and education than those on other social platforms, they tend to do more brand following and influencing; making them a valuable source for marketers. Twitter has incorporated sponsored Tweets as a great way to get companies to show up in a newsfeed, similar to Facebook. I have definitely fallen for a sponsored Tweet, clicking on it, only to realize that marketing just got the best of me. Go Twitter!

According to this Wired article, email is crushing Facebook and Twitter in terms of sales generation. However, I think it is especially important to recognize that Facebook and Twitter do not have to have “clicks” to be effective. As the article says, social media seems to be the holy grail of conversion, I could not agree more.

I believe that both social platforms should be utilized in an effecting IMC plan.  Email is great in that it targets users directly who have chosen to be reached. Facebook is a great way to reach those potential consumers who may know loyal consumers and thus place their trust in the brand as well. Twitter is a great place to encourage influencers to reach their social group, and to utilize valuable engagement opportunities to convert potential sales to sales and loyal consumers through follow-up. Follow-up can also be done through email; however, Facebook and Twitter reach a greater audience than email and can really expand the reach of a company.

Imagine it like this: Email marketing is a marketer in a plaza handing out leaflets to those he knows as a loyal consumer. Facebook is that marketer handing a stack of leaflets to a loyal consumer to show their friends while others watch. Twitter is that same marketer handing leaflets to influencers, converting them to users who then become brand ambassadors.

Content Communities and Social Media. Is Instagram a Different Animal?

I personally like the overall transition from social to content. I think that people have become familiar with social media so much so that meeting people online has become commonplace. It also fosters a really diverse, expansive community that is truly limitless. What better a social mechanism is there than a content community where you can come together with like-minded people? Coming together in content communities is no different than joining a local club for a particular interest.

Content communities are somewhere where “visitors search the content communities by keyword, hashtag, can subscribe to individual users or brand pages, and provide comments on the content.”

According to this article on Lithium, social networks are held together by pre-established interpersonal relationships between individuals. Content communities are held together by common interests. Most people on social media connect with those directly connected to them, where in content communities, new members do not know most of the others in the community.

Ann Handley wrote in her article “Why Instagram Matters to Marketers” that Instagram, at its core, allows you to tell stories visually, but with a simplicity and immediacy and elegance that’s hard to beat.” She goes on to talk about how due to its layout, the platform essentially trains users to search for content.

Instagram is a different animal. In fact, it is bit of a hybrid; part social media and part content community, but entirely entertaining.

I would describe Instagram as a high content and high community platform. It is far and away my favorite form of social media. The photos and videos are engaging, but not overshadowed by annoying status updates or arguments that consume newsfeeds.  Content is easy to browse, search for, locate and connect with. Additionally, it is a great way to discover new things or stories; it’s my visual version of StumbleUpon. With Instagram growing at a rate of more than 2 million users a month, it is easy to imagine how many content communities there are within the social channel/content community.

Instagram can be seen as a content community in that has several defining features like the hashtag for filing photos and that users self-identify with others to connect. Instagram is basically an online database of multimedia content that is shared in a social media setting personally while also allowing personal accounts and media to be open to new members like a content community.

Hashtags are proof that there is enough like content out there to be sorted through hashtags that individual communities can pop up. The best example I can think of would be fitness.  This goes to my second point that Instagram is a content community based on self-identification with others.

Fitness enthusiasts, or “fitspos” as they like to be called, often find each other on Instagram through hashtags, sharing, commenting, and tagging (all of which are characteristics of content communities as mentioned in this week’s lecture).  Fitspos often follow other fitness enthusiasts, dieticians, personal trainers, fitness competitors, and inspirational pages.

By “following” another user on Instagram, you are essentially subscribing to their social/content network. Users often connect with new followers through other users that they have previously identified as someone with common interests. Blogger Nicki Hicks says that with the fitness community, Instagram has become a way to increase accountability. I agree 100 percent. The social community that inspires, teaches, and holds others accountable- well, that must be a new age content community.

Additionally, with integrated marketing communication so invested in involving different channels, it is hard not to imagine Instagram as a content network when it is often wired back to Pinterest through “pins” or to Flickr and Facebook through Instagram sharing preferences.

Push and Pull Marketing

It’s the tug o’war of pushing your brand to consumers, and pulling them in.

Push marketing, or marketer-initiated communication, takes many forms and has many benefits. Three benefits of push marketing include:

1-    Reaching a broad audience
2-    Direct communication of brand message
3-    Getting noticed, great for new companies trying to make a name

Pull marketing, or user-initiated communication, seems to be developing and increasing with technological and social media advancement. Three benefits of pull marketing include:

1-    More calculated audiences which means potential more loyal customers
2-    Less expensive communication channels
3-    Increased interactivity compared to Pull marketing

Push and pull marketing can work together to create a synchronous marketing strategy. Push marketing is a great way to build a consumer base for your brand or product. Push marketing is valuable in directly communicating to potential consumers. Once you have established a reputation for yourself, it is easier to build on that reputation. This is where pull marketing comes in. Pull marketing, especially on Facebook, allows you to hone in on loyal customers, or those that are likely to be interested in your brand or product. Together, the two create a circle of communication and constant brand engagement. Push marketing feeds the cycle and pull marketing keeps it going.

Social media is killing websites by already having a pool of consumers that a brand is trying to reach. In this Convince and Convert article, the author made the analogy of Facebook having a cool party. He said, “[Facebook] already ha[s] access to all of your customers, so why wouldn’t you want to just ride their coattails? If there is a killer party with tons of people, a great band, and free booze it’s going to be tough to get a couple dozen people to leave to come over to your house to watch Jimmy Kimmel and eat microwave popcorn.”

Websites require constant work to keep people coming back to the brand, where as social media puts the brand in front of someone. It’s like giving someone an invitation to come try a new pizza place, or bringing someone a pizza from a new place and saying, “do you want to try it?”

According to Lab42, 50 percent of people find social media pages more useful than websites. This is due to the ease of use and simplified information. Social media pages do not allow for the amount of content that websites do, which makes them more desirable as sources of information. Social media brand pages are the CliffNotes version of a company website.

Ironically, this very benefit of social media sheds light on why websites do need to continue to exist. A social media page does not often give the option to search for nearest location, does not go into great deal on return policies, provide product comparisons, or other such information that users might want. However, a website can.

Websites may not be as trendy or easy to use as social media, just as leather bound books weren’t as trendy or easy to use in law school as the legal search software; but both need to exist to prevent an information gap.

Two companies that use push and pull marketing effectively are Back Country and Fabletics. Both companies actually reached me through pull marketing on Facebook. Each company popped up as one that a friend “liked” in my newsfeed with a sponsored ad, then as a banner ad after I checked them out. To me, that is the perfect example of a company that uses push and pull together effectively.

Backcountry uses chat windows, popups, and direct email, for its push marketing campaign; the company sponsors Facebook stories, blogs, uses banner ads, and uses social media in its pull marketing. I love that BackCountry is so interactive with its consumers through social media, and links products in their adventures back to their website.

Fabletics uses pop-ups, and direct email, for its push marketing campaign; the company sponsors Facebook stories, Google adwords, links to press on its website, uses banner ads, and uses social media in its pull marketing. I think the company does a great job of honing in on female consumers and bringing them to their social media page then back to their website to sign up for email offers, and thereby creating direct mail push marketing. It seems that their pull creates their push sometimes. Imagine that!