Social Media

Myth Making

Things are not always as they seem online (we talked about this a couple years ago around April Fool’s Day).

Of course, we now have access to sites like Snopes that sort through the various stories circulating online (like whether or not Stepbrothers 2 is really in production-the important stuff).

This year, we’re exploring a deeper level of internet-related illusions- one so secret, we weren’t really supposed to know that it exists. You know those viral videos where some thing seemingly serendipitous happens, say…a rat taking a selfie, and it happens to get caught on camera. What are the odds that a rat just so happens to run up to a sleeping man, and just so happens to take a picture of itself? Some would argue…the whole thing was staged. Yet, we had evidence, so why not believe it? This is how myths begin.

The word “myth” has a few different definitions. First, it can be “a widely held but false belief or idea” (from Google), “a story without an author that is passed along and is usually intended to teach a lesson, or something that is untrue” (from YourDictionary), and finally, “A traditional story, especially one concerning the early history of a people or explaining some natural or social phenomenon, and typically involving supernatural beings or events” (from Oxford Dictionary).

With these definitions in mind, it makes sense that social media has become the vehicle for delivering myths in the past few years. If you haven’t already seen the aforementioned rat taking a selfie video, check it out here. Even in the following article, there is some skepticism about the supposed serendipity of it all. Later on, in a podcast from Reply All and this Reddit post, it was revealed that there might be more to the story: the video allegedly involved the sleeping man in subway, possibly the man videotaping, and a trained rat. The whole thing was actually orchestrated by a “Neopagan illusionist” who goes by the name Zardulu (you can find her on Twitter and Facebook).

(From her Facebook page)

(From her Facebook page)

Zardulu isn’t like the other conspiracy theories/pranks that we’ve discussed online, namely because she does not want to take any credit for them. According to her, one of the paid actors leaked the selfie rat story. Jimmy Kimmel proved to us a couple years ago that staged videos could be eagerly consumed at face value- the difference is, he ultimately wanted us to know it was fake.

Zardulu, on the other hand, is just in it for the myths. In terms of her real identity, we aren’t sure who she really is, and she wants to keep it that way. Her intrigue, to me at least, lies in her motivations- why she’s doing what she’s doing, and how she goes about doing it. Zardulu’s Twitter handle is @iamthemythmaker. You’d think that for someone who claims they don’t want any notoriety for their work, why have social media accounts at all? Here is my counter-argument: Zardulu shares nothing about her work on social media. Her status updates are generalized, like this Facebook status:

sasquatchpost

She doesn’t admit to being part of anything specific. It makes it really hard to prove/disprove that she’s done…well, anything. The Reddit post mentioned earlier concludes with the following questions: “How many of these rat escapades are being staged by Zardulu? What other high strangeness in the NYC area can be attributed to Zardulu?” Honestly, this question kind of sent me into a spin.

Sure, we know about Zardulu now- but she’s probably not the only one doing this sort of thing, right? And this is only one example of her work that we know about. Nothing is real anymore. Then there’s this horrifying concept (from the DailyDot article): “Zardulu argues that we’re essentially already living in the Matrix, but it’s a matrix constructed out of digital images and narratives.”

It turns out, the internet (with the help of social media) is actually the perfect breeding ground for creating and perpetuating myths. Zardulu herself writes “With the advent of the internet and viral nature of social media, myth creation no longer requires great lengths of time. For the first time in history, myths can be created in mere moments” (from Founding and Manifesto of Zardulisminterestingly, in the form of a Google Doc- more on why she may have done that here)

Think about the rat selfie video- such a story gains a lot of traction over social media (likes, shares, retweets, comments, etc.)- the perfect way to generate a myth. Social media allows for a story to reach far and wide, as long as it’s given enough of a spark.

What I wonder about Zardulu (or any myth perpetuating personality online), are they doing it for fun or as a larger commentary on society?

In light of this recent knowledge, I’ve been questioning everything that goes by online now. Everything. I still want to believe, but there’s been a wide net of suspicion cast over all online happenings now. The nature of Zardulu’s work is such that there’s no way to definitively prove whether or not she was behind any of it. Which then makes me wonder, “What if she’s lying about the selfie rat?” And so it goes. Does this story make you question what you’ve seen online lately?

Happy April Fool’s Day! 

Kassie is a distance runner and a distance reader really. She lives in Ellsworth Maine and, while she might be quiet when you meet her, will throw out something witty when you least expect it.

Live Video: Some Considerations

You’ve been reading our posts about live video and thinking, “Hey, I want to do this!”

First of all, go you.

Second of all, besides downloading a live video app (like Periscope) and thinking about what you want to talk about, what else should you know?

Here are a few considerations, in no particular order, that we’ve learned so far in our live video adventures:

Consideration #1: WiFi will drain your battery much slower than going through your cell phone’s network.

(If you want some technical explanations why, here’s a Quora post about it.)

 

I was filming the Belt Sander Races, a local tradition that helps us all get through the winter with some humor. I had a cell signal but the 20 minute introduction of all the contenders sucked 50% of my battery. Angry fans begged me to keep filming but since I didn’t bring my backup battery, I let them down by getting only one race on tape. I know, I know.

If you can, get on the WiFi connection of wherever you are filming. If you can’t, bring a backup battery. Video over data is going to suck battery faster than other things apparently. Lesson learned, I’ll be ready next year for the Belt Sander Races.

Consideration #2: If you are hosting a webinar, consider a corded internet connection.

It’s one thing if, when you are attending a webinar, your WiFi connection resets and you miss five seconds of what the speaker says but what if the 200 people attending your webinar experience this kind of outage, even once? Not good.

You may have noticed using Periscope that the signal cuts in and out at times, and that’s to be expected. But if you are hosting a business-y webinar (something more formal or that people are paying to be at), do it over a corded internet connection to avoid latency issues. (More tips on hosting webinars here.)

Consideration #3: Experiment with timing… and tell people it’s happening WAY ahead.

There are some tools like Tweriod which will tell you when your Twitter followers are most active online, so that might be a good place to start with a time to Periscope.

But what if your Twitter followers are most active at 1 pm and you can’t Periscope at your day job? Don’t worry, just pick a time and let people know WAY AHEAD.

You can experiment with timing by trying to scope during different days/times of day and see what feedback is like. There seems to be no one, right answer for the best day/time… which is annoying but also probably accurate.

Consideration #4: Your videos are NOT automatically saved anywhere.

If you want to save your videos, you’ll have to download them to your device or use a program like Katch.me. You’ll have to also put it in your settings that you want this to be a regular thing that happens. More in this blog post about this issue but just to warn you if you did something brilliant and didn’t save it less than 24 hours after, it went *poof*forever.

If you want more tips for offering live video, this article is pretty darn useful: http://sociallysorted.com.au/21-periscope-tips-broadcasts/

Nicole runs Breaking Even Communications, an internet marketing company in Bar Harbor Maine. When she’s not online, she enjoys walking her short dog, cooking with bacon, and trying to be outdoorsy in Acadia National Park.

Service Businesses and Live Video

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Now you may look at Periscope and think you have a pretty good idea who the early adopters are. I mean it’s not shocking to think “Who would like live video?” and come up with the following lists:

  1. Big companies with big marketing budgets who always want to try ‘the next thing’.
  2. Bored people.
  3. Teenagers.
  4. Sports people. (Think about it, what else besides sporting events and The Bachelor do we all collectively watch live really?)

In our little series here, we’re going to treat businesses that sell products and businesses that sell services separately, not because they are actually very different but because some of the applications can be seen as slightly different. Here are a few types of service providers I found one afternoon on Periscope…

Workout Professional

If someone is going to be yaking in your ear for an hour as you huff and puff on the treadmill, wouldn’t you want to know this person’s style first? My one and only session with a personal trainer didn’t go so hot because we just didn’t jive and I would have loved to be able to have known that up front.

Getting to know personal trainers on Periscope is a low risk method. In learning not only whether someone prefers squats or stair climbs, you can also find out a little deeper about their personal philosophy, experiences, and more. We found a rooftop chat from a Denver area fitness professional:

rooftop-chat-personal-trainer-periscope

Note from Paranoid Middle Aged Nicole: You may want to be careful about broadcasting where you live. You can actually disable location settings with Periscope. If you are a parent/wanting to be extra careful about this kind of stuff generally, this article has a pretty good non-technical explanation of some concerns.

Financial Planners

As we’ve worked with financial planners in the past, I know what a landmine social media can be for them in regards to all the regulations on their industry.

I saw a financial planner on Periscope and my first thought was “How is she getting away with that?”

Turns out live video broadcasts straddle the line between ‘public communication’ and ‘broadcasting’. (You can register and read the article we read here.)

financial-planner-periscope

Again, if I am going to be sharing my personal finances with someone and need to trust them, what better way than seeing them on video to give me an idea of if we’ll get along or not?

Social Media Consultant

This one’s a no brainer. But I liked this person’s application of the Periscope technology. Videotaping a conference presentation on Periscope not only allows non-attendees to see what you have to say but lets people know you are speaking at that conference. Sort of instant cache. And if you want to get better as a speaker, what better way to get feedback than from stone cold strangers who don’t want to look you in the eye? (In this case, there were glowing reviews but you get what I’m saying; if someone was going to be critical, this would be a relatively ‘safe’ way for them to do so.)

social-media-conference-periscope

Think about it, if you’re going to hire someone to do services for you or your business, don’t you want to get to know them? That’s what Periscope allows you to do… from the comfort of your own smartphone. 

Service businesses can communicate a lot about not only the owners but the customer service experience using video. If someone wants to know if your cafe is loud or what it’s like to get a pedicure at your spa, video is a great way to show not tell. We all are getting to the point in our Instagram lives where we kind of know those photos are staged but staging a perfect 20 minute live video would be difficult to impossible. (Aside: this video about ‘Instagram Husbands’ made me chuckle the other day.)

If your a service professional, how do you see yourself using Periscope? If live video isn’t your thing, how do you educate you prospective customers?

Previous posts:

Non-profits and Live Video
Product Businesses and Live Video

 

Nicole runs Breaking Even Communications, an internet marketing company in Bar Harbor Maine. When she’s not online, she enjoys walking her short dog, cooking with bacon, and trying to be outdoorsy in Acadia National Park.

Live Videos and Products

This post is a continuation of our live video series. Check out last week’s post on non-profits and live video

When it comes to live videos and branded content, video streaming for businesses that sell products seem like a no-brainer. There are many different ways to use live video for these businesses, the most popular being product demos and launches. In other words, it’s easy to create a live video around a physical product. The goal, of course, is not simply to do it but do it well. The point of live streaming is not to create an infomercial or a commercial- this is about marketing, not advertising. Here are some examples of companies that have used live streaming for their product based businesses without phoning it in:

Barkbox is a subscription service dedicated to dogs (they send accessories and treats). I suspect their success on Periscope has a lot to do with their primary material: puppies. Since they can’t talk and share their feedback on BarkBox products, the marketing team shows various dogs enjoying their goodies from the box. The target market is dog owners, preferably the type who can be moved into purchase by adorable puppy videos.

Doritos used Periscope to create excitement around their product  “Doritos Roulette.” They created a contest involving Periscope, Twitter, Vine, and YouTube. The contest itself seemed a bit complex to me, but maybe I’m just not that passionate about my snacks. Doritos has a pretty big following on social media, so the contest had high volumes of participation. Below is one of the tweets from Doritos announcing the contest:periscope_doritos

The rules for participation felt like a lot of hoops to jump through (again, not a dedicated Doritos fan) but it still had a lot of participation.

Adobe used Periscope for a 24-hour broadcast leading up to the release of Creative Cloud last year. The @CreativeCloud channel shared inside looks at the software and discussions with employees. Throughout the day, the Adobe Periscope channel followed various employees across the world while discussing/demonstrating the different components of the new product. Adobe took their product launch and made it into something more, something that you wouldn’t necessarily expect from them. The 24 hour broadcast was an interesting innovation, too. Most channels won’t have broadcasts that go for that long- although this was a bunch of smaller streaming events from the same channel rather than one continuous stream, it was still a unique use of the app.

adobe_stream

BMW (and any car company, really) uses live streaming video to roll out new models (pun intended). Last October, BMW used Periscope to stream the live launch of the M2, and it was a huge success (they gained about 3,000 new followers). They already have plans to use this method for new model launches this spring. Rolls Royce was a slightly earlier adapter,  as spokesperson Gerry Spahn  explained: “Given how stunningly beautiful the car is we wanted to share it with as many people as possible. Today that means live streaming.” Bingo, Gerry.

You may ask yourself ‘If I’m a small business though, what am I supposed to do?’ Try taking some pointers from Miami Candy, showing how to make candy kabobs with their products.

(PS I can’t screenshot the broadcast and the name of the broadcast so I picked to screenshot the title while it was loading.)

candykabobperiscope

How to do my own candy kabobs? Don’t mind if I do.

What can we learn from these examples?

1) Know what your customers want to see. Yes, it helps to have an amazing product that everyone wants to see, but if you can’t make it interesting, then what’s the point? Each of the companies mentioned above has a different formula for their live streaming stories. BarkBox uses puppies and puppies enjoying products, which makes sense considering their customers. Adobe recognized that it’s customers are probably interested in learning more about how they can use Creative Cloud and other products, so that’s what they delivered. Before you start streaming, think about what your audience is interested in.

2) Announce in advance. You’ll notice that most of the examples above use One of the keys to any event is to make sure you give people enough time to plan their attendance. Adobe used their blog and social media to get the word out about the event, and the Doritos post above was shared 5 days before the event. If you can, be as specific as possible about the date/time for followers to tune in.

3) Customer service on a new level. One of the more popular components of Google Hangouts on Air and Periscope is the ability for audience interaction in real time. People who are watching can send comments and questions, which is a great opportunity for a Q&A around a new product/use of a product. This article from Hubspot has some tips on responding to questions as they come in. For brands with lots of followers, broadcasts are likely a whirlwind of activity and might require an extra person to help facilitate the stream. Responding to questions and comments is a recommended best practice in live streaming content.

4) Have fun. Like Barkbox showing puppies, you can show people using your own product in a fun way. You can take people behind the scenes or give them tutorials like Miami Candy. The point of live videos is to make your business interactive in a way that people will want to buy from you- build trust, tell a story, and don’t be overly aggressive with the sales pitch.

Kassie is a distance runner and a distance reader really. She lives in Ellsworth Maine and, while she might be quiet when you meet her, will throw out something witty when you least expect it.

Google+ Communities

gettingingoodwithgoogle-buttonIn an effort to make Google+ a more “social” network, Communities were formed in 2013.

Communities are similar to Facebook or LinkedIn Groups: they are organized by topics or general interests. From a marketing perspective, Google+ Communities are an underutilized tool for starting and participating in conversations that matter.

What are the benefits of being an active community member on Google?

One thing I’ve noticed about Communities is the global exposure. When you look at any given page, it’s unusual not to see at least one post in a foreign language that isn’t spam). It’s an interesting reminder that social media is far-reaching and that we really do have a unique opportunity in front of us.

Wait a second, my business doesn’t need to market globally. True, but the point of a community isn’t to sell- it’s to exchange information.  This article from Social Media Examiner suggests “As you discover communities where your target market is located, join them and listen in on what they are saying.” In doing so, you discover what your target market has to say about your industry. There may be trends in questions or concerns, which makes great blog post or newsletter material. In other words, it’s a chance for you to research potential customers, and even help them out from time to time.

By contributing to conversations that are related to your industry, you show others that you’re knowledgeable and ideally trustworthy/helpful. Occasionally this does translate into sharing your own material if it’s relevant and can help solve a problem. For instance, if someone posts a question asking about finding the right hashtag for a Twitter post, I could respond with a link to this blog post on that very subject.

googlecommunitiesexample

A screenshot of Communities that Google thinks I would enjoy. This is just a small slice of the topics available- you can even join one of several communities about Grumpy Cat.

What if the community you want/need doesn’t exist?

If you want to start your own community, the steps are pretty straightforward. You get to set up the rules and facilitate conversations among community members, but aside from that, it’s relatively hands-off.

Below is an example from The Marketing+ Community Page is full of people sharing articles and other helpful information about social media marketing (new features, tips they have found to be helpful, etc).

When you set up a community, you have a few decisions to make. Will it be public or private? If it’s private, will it still appear in searches? What are the rules for participating in this community? The description and rules will be displayed on the left sidebar of the community page.

exampleabout

You can post in your own community from time to time to start a conversation (if you have some questions for followers, this is a great way to get them answered), but the ultimate goal is to create a community built around user-generated content. Below is an example post from the Marketing+ Community from KeyMedia Solutions. You may notice that this is an article from their own website, but a) it’s relevant to other community members and b) isn’t overtly selling anything.

examplepost

Communities are another one of those online resources that may inspire new ideas or ways to connect with your businesses. You may also forge some new connections with people you would never have met without this tool. Whether you decide to use communities for business or for fun, they’re unique educational and networking opportunities.

grumpycatcommunity

And, just for fun…here’s Grumpy Cat.

If reading this has made you realize you need help with Google+, click below to learn about a service we think may be a great way for you and your business to start on Google+:

giwg_more

Kassie is a distance runner and a distance reader really. She lives in Ellsworth Maine and, while she might be quiet when you meet her, will throw out something witty when you least expect it.

Where To Find Hashtags

Something about seeing the pound sign in front of a word can make the smartest of us feel a little stupid. Is this something I should know? Is this another language?

Hashtags help us organize information. Nothing more and nothing less.

Let’s say you posted a picture of kittens on Facebook you want to help find homes for. Now in the caption you could say “These Maine coon cat kittens were born in January. They have arrived at the Hancock County SPCA animal shelter very recently. If you know of someone looking for a kitten, send them over!”

While this is a fine caption (and you probably tagged the animal shelter’s Facebook page so people could easily get in touch), how will this picture be found on Facebook by potential adopters? Also some people may be saying ‘maine coon cat’, ‘maine coon’, ‘coon cat’ or some variation.

Searching for ‘maine coon cat’ will bring up any post with those words in it. It will not necessarily bring up pictures of coon cats looking for homes. By putting #mainecoon and #adoptme into the search, I am suddenly getting much more relevant results.

Screen Shot 2016-02-06 at 12.50.01 PM

So hashtags aren’t meant to be confusing or exclusive but the opposite of that. In particular, hashtags help with organizing groups of information in what is often limited space.

The pet thing is one application of hashtags but no doubt in your industry or interests, you can think of ways a hashtag would help you either get your information in front of the right set of eyeballs or curate useful information.

Alright, so I’ve convinced you to use a hashtag (or several). How do you know which ones to use? You have some options.

Option 1: Make Up Your Own

We’ve heard about this going badly but don’t let this stop you from starting your own hashtags! Just 1) do your research to make sure your hashtag doesn’t have a previous history and 2) make sure you communicate this new hashtag to the people you want to use it.

The way I’ve seen this be really successful is at conferences. Joomla Day UK is coming up soon and people are already tweeting about it:

joomladayukhashtag

Once the conference is in full swing, attendees and interested people will be able to follow what’s going on in an organized way.

Option 2: Ride The Trends

Most social networks that support hashtags will have a list of what’s trending on that network. Here’s an example from Twitter (well, the day I took this screenshot anyway):

Screen Shot 2016-02-06 at 1.18.51 PM

Now if you don’t necessarily want to talk about something trending but want to talk about a popular hashtag in your niche, you can use a resource like Hastagify.me to look up the popularness of certain hashtags:

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As you see, #mainecoon is the most popular hashtag so if we were limited on space, we’d want to pick that one and ride that popularity trend.

Option 3: Go Tried And True

hashtags-of-central-maineThis is the internet equivalent of buying a classic pair of dark jeans or a crisp white shirt.

Hashtags for days of the week (ex #WCW for ‘woman crush Wednesday’)
Hashtags for (some) industries (you can look yours up on the Google)
Hashtags by geographic area (You can see, stage right, some popular hashtags in my corner of the world when I took this screenshot.)

If you want to completely overwhelm yourself or really geek out researching popular hashtags, this post is for you: https://www.marketingtechblog.com/hashtag-research-tools/

Is it important to get hashtags exactly right? Probably not. But as you start using them and getting more confident, you’ll see which ones work well over time. #seeyouonline #social #marketing #goyou

(Pro Tip from my Instagram enthusiast husband: Have a note on your phone with all the hashtags you use in it… then you can copy and paste the whole thing into Instagram and just delete the ones you don’t need.)

Nicole runs Breaking Even Communications, an internet marketing company in Bar Harbor Maine. When she’s not online, she enjoys walking her short dog, cooking with bacon, and trying to be outdoorsy in Acadia National Park.
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