Dec 18, 2012

Instagramageddon

Along with the world ending this week (give or take a few years) according to the Mayan calendar, you can now harken the death bells for one of the most previously beloved little apps of all time, Instagram. Instagram did a lot of things right on their rise to the top. Not just a cute camera app with cool little filters, Instagram was a community. Aye mateys, it was to the lament of all the tight jeans clad hipsters who got the community going and had to deem it uncool once it was purchased by Facebook for more than the New York Times was worth. Whatever. Every pirate needs his treasure, and the Instagram startup founders made something great and got their booty. They focused mostly on mobile. The browser site was mostly just for users to log in and manage more complicated settings and such. Like deleting your account forever. Let’s be honest, did anyone think Facebook was going to put Instagram in a glass case and let it age gracefully? The rub right now that has all ye scurvy lads screaming mutiny has to do with the new Terms of Service. Insiders say Instagram will let you retain rights to all of your content (photos, comments, and most creepy of all, the geolocation data embedded in your images), but you also must surrender to them unrestricted licenses to use all your content as they see fit. They means Facebook. We already do that anyway, right? Maybe, but this is different.

Say you don’t want to play their game anymore, what do you do?

There is an article getting shared like shingles on how to kill your account here on Wired. But what if you want to to remove all your photos and data, but retain your username? There is a workaround how-to posted on Tentblogger’s site that makes a lot of sense. You get to keep all your photos and back them up via Instaport, then contrary to what the Wired article says, you can quickly re-register your original username, and start stalking your friends again. One note, if you use Instaport, consider dropping them a donation via paypal. I’ll bet their servers are going to get expensive in the next few weeks!

Arrrrrg!

North Dakota, You Are Certainly Legendary Now.

Troy T. over at Travel 2.0 picked up on this late last week and wrote a post about it. Apparently, this ad was floating around the interwebs last week, and at first I thought it had to have been a joke. Perhaps an art director and a copy writer had just lost a pitch, and thought they’d build a portfolio piece around making fun of the account that wasn’t to be. Turns out, it was a real ad in a campaign, and became an internet sensation. This ad was wrong on so many levels, but look at the bright side. The North Dakota PR agency must be earning their fees right now. Whatever happens in Fargo, never really happened.

Horrible North Dakota Tourism Ad

Which one of you Brokebacks is getting lucky tonight?

Questions About Blog Content Strategies

Ahoy mateys. It’s been awhile since the captain has been on deck and behind the wheel. When I am not wearing the eye patch, I have been busy running a new start-up digital marketing firm called Rally Interactive LLC, and business has been, well, a treasure trove of projects to work on. Which leads me to a question I want to throw out there for my one or two followers of this blog. I am not looking for right or wrong type answers, but I’d like to know what works for you. Here’s the spin: We are busy rebuilding a business-to-consumer site for a well-known outdoor apparel brand. Part of their ongoing content marketing strategy involves a healthy amount of blogging, which they are good at. The crux of the decision that needs to be made is this: should the blog live within the main consumer site for SEO purposes, or is there value in breaking it out and having it live on its own domain? Tell me what you think in the comments section.

New Facebook Page Layout Causes Mass Uprising

Sometime last week, Facebook made good on a threat to significantly change the layout of Fan Pages (business pages, brand pages, etc.) and also the methodology in which they are built. This marks the death bell for FBML, the proprietary mark-up language of Facebook that has spawned a cottage industry explosion of “social media experts” and services who build tab applications like simple Welcome pages. Going forward, all applications need to be built using an IFRAME rather than FBML. Facebook says this is for the better for all parties involved. As developers we have to agree. This straight from the Facebook Developers Blog:

“As of today, you can build your Page Tab apps using iframes rather than FBML. This means you can now build apps that run across Facebook (including Pages and Canvas applications) using the same simple, standards-based web programming model (HTML, JavaScript, and CSS). In addition, you can easily integrate social plugins and the Graph API within your tab.”

So in a nutshell, here are highlights and lowlights:

1. Tabs are gone, and Pages for brands and businesses look a lot more like personal pages. There is a photo strip above the status update window, much like on personal pages.

2. Navigation links in the left column replace tabs. So if you had a Welcome page that new visitors default to when they visit your brand page, it will still work*, but rather than having a tab at the top of your page, it will show up in the lefthand links.

3. Powerful new feature: admins of Pages can toggle between using Facebook as themselves (John Doe) or the Brand (Acme Widget Company). Social Media marketing managers are going to wet themselves over this change alone.

4. Brands who have invested in the development of FBML tab apps will likely have to rewrite these apps at some point using the new iFrame method, but Facebook’s official word on when FBML will be deprecated and phased out has been vague. The Captain recommends you do it sooner rather than later. That crap should live on your own server anyway.

5. A lot of folks have been complaining about the order of Status Updates: the new change apparently applies a ranking to Status Updates, and the most relevant or popular appear top down, rather than in chronological order. I’d be willing to bet, mateys, that Facebook will change this back to chronological, and/or give users the choice. After all, it wouldn’t really be a status update if “What Are You Doing Right Now” didn’t appear at the top of the list.

What do you think on these new changes? Pirate Booty? Cause for mutiny? Couldn’t give a scurvy rat’s ass? We’d like to know.

Best Tourism Ad Ever

I want to thank Troy Thompson from Travel2.0 for a recent post where he highlights this YouTube campaign for Leavenworth, WA as one of his favorite uses of Social Media for tourism marketing. Before I begin to wax Piratic over this, let’s dive right in and have you watch it first. Then me lads, I’ll tell you why I am so impressed:

It’s hard enough to get tourism destinations to leverage YouTube as a channel for highlighting their video assets. Some will cobble together some in-house clips of b-roll and post them up on their channel. I suppose that’s better than nothing. But the folks from Leavenworth have gone beyond that. They have invested in a story. An elaborate story, featuring a nutcracker named Woody Goomsba. One thing recurring theme I agree with Troy and the Travel2.0 folks on: story first, tools later. YouTube is just the social media tool here. This video would not have 185,000 plus views if it wasn’t a good story. I urge you to also view the behind the scenes video that shows the making of this. Notice the news clips of PR this video generated for Leavenworth. Notice the production values that went into shooting this. So if you are a destination marketing organization, are you investing in the story, or spending too much time messing around with the tools? Top shelf, Leavenworth. The Captain is a fan.

One Less Fan

It finally happened. I publicly “unfriended” someone. There have been times in my personal experiences with Facebook where I grew tired of someone’s activity, and I quietly “unfriended” that person. There have been other times, for example, during a recent career switch, where I quietly “unfriended” former client contacts that I probably never should have “friended” in the first place. Nothing personal. Life goes on. Just trying to unclutter the stream, the same way you might recycle business cards in your desk of people you’ll never need to talk to again. That’s what LinkedIn is for anyway. But in the case mentioned above, I couldn’t take it anymore. To protect this person’s identity, I’ll just call him “Coach.” I knew Coach from bike racing. Nice kid. Quiet. Humble. From a good family. Then he became a contestant on Survivor. No shit! Of course I accepted his friend request on Facebook, after all, I thought I knew him pretty well. Not sure if he actually does his own Facebook posts or if his “publicist” does them for him, but I noticed the last few months they have become crass, negative, self-absorbed. It was starting to become pollution in my newsfeed. Then there was one post that just sent me over the top, something about not caring about the country’s Gazillion dollar and growing federal deficit, as long as it didn’t affect him personally, he could care less. I posted a comment saying how negative and self-absorbed I thought he had become. Then I promptly unfriended Coach. I should have stayed friends for awhile, so I could have had access to all of his supporters who cussed me out, criticized me (for being critical of Coach), calling me a jackass, wondering why I cared about the federal deficit as a personal matter, etc. I think next time, I’ll just do it quietly. The lesson I learned: I really just wanted to send Coach a message to get him to think about what he was saying, instead I incited a riot amongst his fans and followers. People read this stuff, folks. It’s become a powerful medium, even when it’s just personal conversation.

Fan Page To Fan Page Wall Posts On Facebook

A former colleague in the tourism marketing business recently sought the advice of the Scurvy Pirates to help solve a Facebook mystery. This was an interesting one to figure out: the desired goal was to be able to post on the Wall of a Fan or Business Page, under the identity of his organization’s Fan Page. The problem is, every time his social marketing manager tried to post on another Fan Page, the Wall post showed up as coming from that person, not the Fan Page the person was representing.

Here’s an example: Joe Smith manages a Facebook Fan Page for Big Giant Ski Resort. He wants to make a Wall post that will appear on Ski Utah’s Facebook Fan Page. Every time he does this, the Wall post originates from his personal login, and appears as from Joe Smith, not Big Giant Ski Resort. But Joe really wants the Wall post to be from his business Fan Page, not from his personal account. Maybe he wants to share ski resort upcoming events with the larger fan base of Ski Utah, whose Fan Page is devoted to promoting all ski related businesses within the state. Maybe Ski Utah wants their members to post events on their Wall to create more content and engagement. This is all hypothetical, of course. But it could apply to any Destination Marketing Organization (DMO) trying to foster more conversation and engagement between their membership base.

There is a hack that makes this easy to do, and it doesn’t require any coding, or installing an app, or any sort of log-in trickery. It involves using the Facebook tagging shorthand “@” symbol while making a Wall post on your own Fan Page, and tagging the page where you want your post to show up. You are not really posting Wall-to-Wall per se. You are creating a Wall post on your own page, but because you have tagged someone else’s page, it will publish on their Wall.

In this scenario, Joe Smith would go to his own business’ Fan page and create a new Wall post, including a tag in the post for the Ski Utah page. Here is an example: “Hey @SkiUtah, we’re having Oktoberfest at the mountain. Check the link below.”

1. start out writing the post on your own Wall. When you type the @ symbol and the first letter of the page you are thinking about, you’ll see a javascript drop down menu with all the Fan Pages or people who your Fan Page is connected with.

2. choose one from the menu, and the text will be highlighted blue, signifying that page or person is tagged, and your post will show up on their Wall after you publish it.

3. go ahead and add a link, attach a photo, whatever you normally do in Wall posts.

4. The “@” tagging doesn’t work from mobile apps, and I’m not sure if it works with any desktop Facebook clients like Seesmic.

Caution: this tagging only works if the Fan Page you are tagging is following your Fan Page. And if you abuse this reciprocal way of posting and tagging to get a Wall Post on the target Fan Page (in this case, the hypothetical Ski Utah page), they might delete your post if they decide it’s inappropriate, or worse, they might stop following your page, which would then take away your ability to tag and post in the future. It’s a good hack, and it gets the job done. But use it wisely, and don’t send relentless Wall Post SPAM.

How Do You Mountain?

I applaud Park City-based The Canyons Resort, (or maybe just Canyons), for committing some serious bucks towards creating content. Check out How Do You Mountain. Is┬áthis a social media campaign? Or is it a PR campaign? Yes, it’s all of those things. If you are going to shell out a $40k stipend for 4 months of work, put the winner up in a luxury suite at the Waldorf Astoria, spiff them out with content creating tools like a camera, video cam, laptop, then give them an all-access pass to one of the largest ski resorts in North America, people are going to notice. Here’s what I really like about their strategy:

1. the selection process to find their pro blogger for a season in itself is creating user-generated content. A 2 minute video is required with every application. Tons of people are going to submit. Heck, I’ll bet some marketing staffers at neighboring resorts are going to apply, just for the fun of it. Aye mateys, why not? I’m sure there will be some funny ones that will end up on their YouTube channel later this fall, regardless of who wins the coveted position.

2. Forget about turning screws in the rental shop, bumping chairs, slinging nachos in the bar. This would be the highest paying ski bum job you are going to find in Park City this winter. Most other resorts and DMOs pawn off blogging and content creation to an intern or someone who is currently on-staff and chronically overworked. Kudos for bucking up the cash.

3. Who cares if the person who wins ends up being a tool? The contest is going to generate more PR buzz in the long run just for the high stakes nature.

What do you think? Smart move?

Facebook Moving Ahead With New Page Width and Other Changes

Facebook announced awhile back that they would be making significant changes to how Profile Pages and Fan Pages are displayed, mainly, they would be narrowing the page width to 520 px wide, and would be doing away with profile boxes. For anyone who has custom tab applications that are sized to anything other than 520 px wide, this is going to be a problem and will require you to tweak those tab apps. Today, as I logged in to one of the many Facebook Pages that I am admin for, I saw a little box at the top saying essentially, now is the time to make any changes, as the new 520 px wide pages will take effect the week of August 23rd, 2010. Check out the official announcement from the Facebook Developer’s blog.

App Review: AutoStitch for iPhone

This post was originally going to be a shoot-out between AutoStitch which has been in the App Store for awhile, and the newly released 360 Panorama App, which was published by Occipital, the same company that brought us Red Laser (which by the way, was recently purchased by eBay). Unfortunately there is nothing to compare. 360 Panorama is a joke. After spending $2.99, I feel like I made a contribution to Occipital’s AR (augmented reality) research and development fund, because this app is not a Photography app. AutoStitch, on the other hand, is thoughtfully-designed to be useful, and creates amazing results. For both tests below, I was using an iPhone 3GS with iOS 4.0.1.

How you use 360 Panorama
You launch the app, hold your phone in the air, tap the screen, then you slowly rotate where you are standing, while passers-by think out loud, what in the fuck is that guy doing? What may seem odd turns sarcastically funny when you look at the result, only the joke is on you. The resulting image is poor quality, with visible overlaps, jagged transitions, hardly something you want to share with anyone you know.

How you use AutoStitch
First of all, you don’t actually shoot through AutoStitch. So it’s not a camera app per se, it’s more of a post processing app. The first time you launch it, you get instructions that tell you to exit the app, and shoot a series of still shots through the native camera, making sure the images overlap in terms of point of view. Once you have created and saved a bunch of successive images to your camera roll, you go back and launch the app, choose the images you want to stitch together, and the app takes it from there. The results are amazing. There is a crop tool inside the app that auto-crops, or allows you to drag the corners for custom cropping, and it then saves a high resolution file to your camera roll.

The images below were shot during a recent weather event that created amazing light and a variety of colors and clouds during sunset. You tell me which image is the result of $2.99 well spent, and which one looks like R2D2 ate a bunch of mushrooms.

Sunset in Park City, Utah Panorama image created with AutoStitch iPhone App

Sunset shot with iPhone 3GS and AutoStitch App

Click the image above for a larger version. This was composited by AutoStitch from 19 different still shots. As instructed, I made sure each image overlapped the previous, as I moved from left to right to capture about 180 degrees of this beautiful sunset. Then I launched the app, selected the sequence from my camera roll, and created the pano. I then uploaded straight to my Facebook Wall, and sat back for the oohing and aahing to begin. I even had a professional photographer friend ask what I shot this with. If you want to get AutoStitch, and you are convinced by this review, the good captain is an iTunes affiliate, so click here if you are convinced and want to pony up for AutoStitch.

Poor image created with iPhone 3GS and 360 Panorama App

WTF? Really? I expected so much more from 360 Panorama App

I don’t even know what to say about this. 360 Panorama supposedly uses live video input, and uses GPS pitch, roll, and yaw data and takes the image in realtime, but the results are not very impressive. I can’t recommend this app to anyone, and frankly, can’t believe it ever got approved as a paid app in the first place. Maybe it is a hint of things to come with some cool technology that Occipital is working on, but for a consumer, it’s a dead fish.

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