Tag Archives: social media

Facebook now lets you shoot 360-degree photos inside its app

Facebook has allowed users to upload and view 360-degree photos for a little over a year now, but the social media platform is also adding the ability to capture them, too. Starting today, both the iOS and Android versions of the Facebook app will allow users to create 360-degree photos without requiring a third-party app or camera.

Of course, since phones don’t have 360-degree cameras built in (yet, at least), the process resembles how you create panoramas in your phone’s camera app. To create 360-degree photos inside the Facebook app, scroll to the top of the News Feed and tap the “360 Photo” button. Then slowly spin around for a full turn, all while keeping the the graphic centered in the middle. When it’s finished, you can pick the “starting point” for the photo and publish it. You can even set it as your cover photo.

Since that capture process isn’t instantaneous, the update only applies to 360-degree photos for now. While Facebook supports 360-degree videos, you’ll still need to shoot those with a camera like the Samsung Gear 360, Insta360, or Nikon KeyMission 360, and upload them separately.




Dawn of the Social Media Influencer as Entrepreneur

Over the past week, I have been working with the model, social media star and actress Alexis Ren to launch her own brand, REN Active (http://www.renactive.co). Many social media stars have launched merchandise: most is usually the typical banal array of t-shirts, hoodies and caps sold at concerts and events by stars and celebrities. What distinguishes REN Active is that it has been beautifully crafted and designed in the very same minimalist aesthetic and style that her 10 million followers have already come to know from her. Alexis Ren has not only launched products, but a genuine brand with a message.

21st century society has become accustomed to the newly-formed celebrity of emerging You Tube talent, Instagram “hotties” and blogging fashion and beauty mavens. Over the past several years, so-called “digital talent” have matured from being the millenial outliers of the media world to being becoming part of daily life for middle America and the rest of the globe. Unlike the awe fans feel for traditional celebrities, actors and pop-stars, followers of social media talent are immersed inside the daily life and routine of the influencers they follow.


Because of this direct relationship between follower and influencer, a global marketplace has developed between brands and social media stars buying and selling their influence over the millions of constituents they react with on a daily basis.  An entire economy of agents, agencies, media networks and brand consultants has emerged around influencer marketing. Because technology is so closely linked with social media, never before has it been easier to target any particular demographic or measure the direct success of any influencer-based marketing campaign. In the “good old days”, it was just a well-founded guess how successful an expensive ad campaign gracing the pages of Vogue might have been. Today, a brand knows exactly how many consumers have clicked through to, commented on or “liked” any digital social media campaign they have invested in.


Major ecommerce and brick and mortar retailers are now also looking to partner and create joint ventures with social media stars and celebrities to help launch new businesses. From my own experience representing “new-age” digital talent, Walmart, Jet.Com, Target and even traditional department stores are moving into the game. A new class of incubators, entrepreneurs and venture capitalists are also emerging, seeing the opportunity to partner with social media talent by contributing their expertise, capital and management skills to help launch new brands.

Will Alexis Ren and her fellow social media standouts be the Ralph Laurens, Oprah Winfreys and Donna Karans of the future? No one really knows, but it is certain that they will have an impact on the landscape of media, entertainment and commerce in the foreseeable future.



How Rovio Fought Off Bankruptcy to Make Angry Birds

If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again. Right?

For the maker of Angry Birds, everyone’s favorite time waster, it actually took 51 tries before they created the perfect casual game. Wired UK has an excellent profile of how the company battled back from bankruptcy to become one of the hottest entertainment companies in the world. It’s more inspiring than you’d expect.

First they had to save a company in crisis: at the beginning of 2009, Rovio was close to bankruptcy. Then they had to create the perfect game, do every other little thing exactly right, and keep on doing it. The Heds had developed 51 titles before Angry Birds. Some of them had sold in the millions for third parties such as Namco and EA, so they decided to create their own, original intellectual property. “We thought we would need to do ten to 15 titles until we got the right one,” says 30-year-old Niklas. One afternoon in late March, in their offices overlooking a courtyard in downtown Helsinki, Jaakko Iisalo, a games designer who had been at Rovio since 2006, showed them a screenshot. He had pitched hundreds in the two months before. This one showed a cartoon flock of round birds, trudging along the ground, moving towards a pile of colourful blocks. They looked cross. “People saw this picture and it was just magical,” says Niklas. Eight months and thousands of changes later, after nearly abandoning the project, Niklas watched his mother burn a Christmas turkey, distracted by playing the finished game. “She doesn’t play any games. I realised: this is it.”

I’ve long thought casual games are like pop songs. Everyone knows roughly what they’re supposed to sound like, but getting everything just right is stupendously unlikely. Since nearly every single casual game or pop song won’t be a hit, the key skill seems to be the right ear (or fingers) to feel when something isn’t good, but great. Or maybe you just have to get lucky.




Facebook Pages can now build their own communities

Today, Facebook is rolling out a new feature called “Groups for Pages,” which will let artists, brands, businesses and newspapers create their own fan clubs. The company says the idea stems from two reporters at The Washington Post who started a Facebook group called PostThis, where they interact with some of “the most avid fans” of the paper on a daily basis. Facebook says right now there are more than 70 million Pages on its platform, so this going to be great for many users who want to let their loyal supporters feel more connected to them.

The launch could further Facebook’s new mission statement to “bring the world closer together” and push it toward its goal to grow the membership of “meaningful groups” from 100 million now to 1 billion in the future.

Users can look at a Page’s Groups shortcut for any communities they’ve created. Pages can link an existing Group to their Page in addition to launching new ones.


For years, Facebook pushed people to create lists of specific friends to share different posts with, or to just fully embrace “openness” and share publicly. But it seems to have realized that people’s values and interests don’t always align with their geographic communities, or even their closest friends. Since the News Feed prioritizes showing content that gets lots of clicks and Likes, niche content could often fall flat and reach few people. Plus there’s the issue that Trump’s polarization of the United States has made sharing political content to Facebook a minefield of angry relatives and extremist high school classmates.


Facebook ‘Groups for Pages’ unlocks fan clubs

Facebook’s Hate Speech Rules Make ‘White Men’ a Protected Group

Is Facebook really training its content moderators to protect white men over black children?

Facebook, which topped 2 billion global users yesterday, has been working to fend off critics who say the social networking giant doesn’t do enough to police offensive content and online harassment on its site. But now those efforts may be backfiring following a new report that claims to show the awkward criteria the company uses to choose which content to censor.


A new report on Wednesday from ProPublica, which reviewed internal documents from Facebook, sheds some light on what appears to be the convoluted process through which the social media company determines which allegedly offensive posts are removed and the accounts that get suspended for hate speech. ProPublica reports that the internal guidelines that Facebook uses to train its content censors differentiates between groups such as white men, who fall under a so-called “protected category,” and black children. The latter belong to “subset categories,” which include groups of people whom Facebook would reportedly not protect from online hate speech, according to ProPublica.

The report went on to explain the reasoning behind Facebook’s seemingly confusing moderation policies, which look to censor slurs and other attacks against “protected categories” that are based on race, sex, gender identity, religion, national origin, sexual orientation, and serious disability or disease. Facebook posts including slurs based on those factors would be subject to removal. Other factors—including age, appearance, occupation, social class, and political affiliation—are lumped into unprotected categories based on the idea that they are less central to a person’s identity. Therefore, Facebook’s guidelines would call for slurs against “white men” (which are based on race and sex) to be categorized as hate speech over offensive posts aimed at “black children” (a group based on race and age).

The reasoning there would seem to be that two protected categories outweigh only one. It’s a solution that, perhaps, makes more sense as an algorithm than it does when put into practice with real people and actual offensive posts.

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Still, even if the logic behind Facebook’s policies becomes somewhat less cringeworthy upon further explanation, the company will undoubtedly still have to deal with the backlash stemming from the ProPublica report, which includes a pretty regrettable company training slide that asks moderators which groups Facebook protects and presents the options as “female drivers,” “black children,” and “white men” (with the latter group inexplicably represented by a photo of the pop ensemble the Backstreet Boys, no less). White men are the correct answer under the company’s reported guidelines.



At the very least, the company knows that its policies are not perfect. “The policies do not always lead to perfect outcomes,” Monika Bickert, Facebook’s head of global policy management, told ProPublica. “That is the reality of having policies that apply to a global community where people around the world are going to have very different ideas about what is OK to share.”

Bickert offered a similar response last month, after the Guardian published more leaked documents showing examples of “disturbing” content that Facebook’s moderation rules would still allow to remain on its site. At the time, Bickert noted that moderating content on a massive scale “is complex, challenging, and essential,” but she also admitted that the company can “get things wrong, and we’re constantly working to make sure that happens less often.”

Facebook certainly isn’t the only digital company to face criticism for its handling of offensive content and online harassment, with Twitter among those also frequently coming under fire. In early May, Facebook hired an additional 3,000 content moderators (bringing the total to 7,500), and the company said it is deleting roughly 66,000 posts it identifies as hate speech each week as part of stepped-up efforts to combat online harassment along with offensive and violent content. Unfortunately for Facebook, the fallout from the ProPublica report is the latest stain on those efforts.



3 Tips to Create Content And Social Media Marketing That Sells

Powerful Social Media Targeting

As organic reach on Facebook continues to plummet to zero, investing in paid promotion is a necessity. One of the strengths of today’s social networks lies within the targeting capabilities available to advertisers. Social media platforms have amassed rich data on consumers that financial marketers can leverage.

Using your research and sales data, you can identify specific segments that can be targeted within social platforms. You can target people who are either engaged, married or pregnant, or those who are members of a credit union, or customers at a national/community banks. For example, 70% of people rolled over their 401k into an IRA due to a recent job change according to Oliver Wyman.

Here are some other great examples of targeting options available within Facebook, and the potential banking products that match with them:

  • First-Time Home Buyer – FHA Loans, Mortgages
  • Newly Engaged, Newlyweds – Mortgage, Joint Accounts, Savings Accounts, Financial Advisors
  • New Job – IRA Rollovers
  • New Mover, Recently Moved, Likely to Move – Checking Accounts, Mortgages, IRA Rollovers
  • New Vehicle Buyers & Shoppers – Vehicle Loans

2. Synch Sales With Marketing

To develop a sound content strategy, marketing and sales teams need to be aligned. They need to share knowledge, and agree on what qualifies as “good leads.” Working together, they should define common pain points and objections, plan upcoming initiatives and establish metrics for measuring progress.

A study by Marketo found that when both sales and marketing teams are both in synch, organizations became 67% better at closing deals and generated 209% more value from their marketing efforts.

3. Map Content to Personas

People have different needs and expectations as they get deeper into the sales funnel; accordingly, they seek specific information unique to each stage. Marketers need to develop the right content that speaks to prospects’ needs at each stage of the sales funnel. Personas and journey mapping can be a powerful way to determine appropriate messaging for different segments. Although it takes more effort to develop unique messages for different target audiences, there’s greater potential to make a bigger impact and produce better results. People want to feel like you are speaking directly to them. Let’s use the persona “Frank the First-Time Homebuyer” as an example for a quick content mapping exercise:

Awareness. Frank is newly engaged and is aware of a problem – he rents and feels it’s like throwing away money and isn’t sure if he can afford a home. Create content that helps him determine if it’s better to buy or rent and how much he can afford, like a blog post with a buy or rent calculator. This isn’t the time to hard-sell Frank on a mortgage. At this time, just introduce your financial institution and offer helpful advice for his specific needs. During this stage, drop a remarketing pixel on your website, so you can target Frank to return and continue to build awareness.

Consideration to Conversion. Frank is now considering a solution to his problem, buying his first home, but wants to know how to get the lowest mortgage rate, and is concerned about his ability to afford a 20% down payment. Create content that explains how rates aren’t the only factor in the final actual cost of a mortgage (to compete with online mortgage sites with super low rates and high closing costs), and share information on how he could get a home with no money down. You can also offer more calculators, information on how to get pre-approved or pre-qualified, and a mortgage checklist. At this stage, include a strong call to action to set up appointment with a loan officer or direct him to your online mortgage application.

Loyalty. Frank has become a happy customer and moved into his new home. Now is a wonderful time to introduce a referral program to get him to refer his friends, or ask to get a positive review on social media. Frank may also benefit from some of your other banking or loan products down the road so make sure you keep him engaged with your brand for the next time he’s in the market for another financial product.



Snapchat downloads are dropping off a cliff

Snapchat’s growth has slowed sharply during the past two months as Facebook and its Instagram app continue to knock off the disappearing-photo app’s features, according to an analyst report.

Downloads of the app operated by Venice, Calif.-based Snap Inc. are down 22 percent year-over-year through the first two months of this year’s second quarter, according to Instinet.

That’s a sharp about-face from the first quarter, when Snapchat downloads rose 6 percent. In the last two months, the slowdown has been steepest with iPhone users — down a drastic 40 percent, according to the report published Wednesday.

The analyst noted that Instagram has been copying Snap’s features, for example allowing users to create “stories,” or series of video clips grouped together in a single post.

On its first-ever quarterly earnings call last month, Snap management downplayed fears about Facebook copying Snapchat’s features. CEO Evan Spiegel also noted that the second and third quarters are slowest when it comes to advertising for Snapchat.

“We are surprised that a newly public company, supposedly early in its growth cycle, would see near-term results impacted by broader seasonal ad market trends,” Instinet’s DiClemente wrote Wednesday.

Earlier this year, a former Snapchat employee sued the company, claiming that Snapchat was inflating its user stats and growth metrics in marketing materials it distributed to advertisers.

In response, Snapchat’s lawyers called the claim a “musty, two-year-old allegation about a minor metrics deviation.”



A dad casually mowed the lawn with a tornado in the background

Theunis Wessels decided it was time to mow the lawn on Friday, and no storm was going to stop him.

His wife Cecilia went to take a nap and was woken up by their nine-year-old daughter who’d seen a tornado brewing and was upset that her dad wouldn’t come inside, The Canadian Press reported.

Cecilia snapped a photo to send to her parents back in South Africa, where the Wessels lived before moving to Alberta, Canada, and posted it on Facebook.

The photo quickly made the rounds on social media as people added their own interpretations of the photo — and expressed admiration for Theunis’ commitment to maintaining a well-manicured lawn.


As for Theunis, he told The Canadian Press that the tornado wasn’t as close as it looks in the photo, that it was moving away from him, and that he was “keeping an eye on it.”

US Air Force veteran Tairod Pugh dreamed of being Isis ‘martyr’

A US Air Force veteran has been sentenced to 35 years in prison for trying to join terrorist organisation Isis in Syria.

Tairod Pugh, aged 49, of New Jersey was found guilty of trying to distribute material support to Isis. He was stopped by security officials at a Turkish airport in January 2015 and was discovered to be in possession of a laptop containing 180 jihadist videos, including footage of a beheading.

They are also found a map showing border crossings from Turkey to Syria and a letter in which Pugh told his Egyptian wife that he wished to become a martyr.

“I am a Mujahid. I am a sword against the oppressor and a shield for the oppressed. I will use the talents and skills given to me by Allah to establish and defend the Islamic State. There are only two possible outcomes for me: Victory or Martyr,” the letter read.

Pugh, who declared that he was innocent in court, is the first person to be successfully prosecuted for an Isis-related offence in the US.



The Muslim convert served as an aircraft engineer in the US air force from 1986 to 1990 and worked as a military contractor in Iraq from 2009 to 2010. After leaving the armed forces, he worked as a civil aviation engineer in Kuwait.


Prosecutor Bridget Rohd said the defendant “turned his back on his country, and the military he once served, to attempt to join a brutally violent terrorist organization committed to the slaughter of innocent people throughout the world.”


“This isn’t about whether you’re Muslim, or Christian or Jewish,” Brooklyn federal judge Nicholas Garaufis told Pugh. “This is about whether you’re going to stand up for your country, which has done so much for you, or betray your country. You’ve made your choice, sir. I have no sympathy.”



Reddit Users Can Now Add Their Location to Posts

Mobile users of online discussion forum Reddit will be able to let people know where they’re located.

Reddit, the self-labeled “front page of the internet,” has partnered with location check-in app Foursquare to use its data to power a new Reddit feature debuting today that lets users add their location to any post.


The new feature helps Reddit users add “content and interest” to their posts beyond the usual discussion of politics and pop culture by its 250 million users, Mike Harkey, Foursquare’s vice president of business development, said in a blog post announcing the partnership. He gave the example of users tagging their locations when posting food photos or discussing trips to their local parks. “Think of location in Reddit as an extra emphasis — at-the-ready like the perfect punctuation, or headline,” Harkey wrote.

For Foursquare, the deal marks the latest step in the company’s evolution from a social media app to its more recent incarnation as a “location intelligence” company. Foursquare has previously licensed its database of more than 90 million mapped locations—public places like stores, restaurants, or museums—to companies such as Uber and Airbnb, and the company also began offering up its mobile notification system to developers earlier this year.

Foursquare also pointed out that the location-tagging feature is optional, which is not surprising considering that many Reddit users prefer to remain anonymous on the site. Mobile users who enable location services will simply see a drop-down menu with options for tagging a location.


The move marks Reddit’s latest attempt to increase engagement as the site moves closer to the model of a mainstream social network. In March, Reddit started rolling out public profiles for its users and, last year, the company finally released mobile versions of the site with iOS and Android apps. Adding location-tagging is another way for Reddit to appear more like other social media sites, with some people noting recently that Reddit is beginning to look more and more like Facebook and Twitter.

Reddit has seen quite a few changes since co-founders Alexis Ohanian and Steve Huffman returned to the 12-year-old company in 2015, after interim CEO Ellen Pao stepped down in the wake of a user revolt over her firing of a popular Reddit employee. In addition to the site’s new features, the company’s makeover has seen crackdowns on online harassment and spam, with Ohanian shutting down two popular forums frequented by the “alt-right,” a group often associated with white nationalists and other racist groups.