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I Choose You: The Rapid Rise of Pokémon Go

“Gotta Catch ‘Em All!” the old adage goes for Nintendo’s wildly popular Pokémon franchise, and thanks to a new app, it’s currently catching the hearts and attention of people around the world who have always dreamed of becoming a Master Trainer. Today, we’re going to take a look at Pokémon Go, and try to figure out why it’s so popular, and where it goes from here: First, some background: Developed by Niantic, Pokémon Go is a location-based augmented reality game available on both iOS and Android devices. Players (“Trainers”) create their own profile, and from there, can capture and train their own collection of monsters, and then battle other users in designated “Gym” areas. What makes this unique? It’s all done out in the real world. Many Pokémon are location specific. If you want one, you’ll have to go out and explore for yourself. Once you gain enough experience points, you’ll be able to join one of three teams (Red, Blue, or Yellow), and battle it out for supremacy. The app is free to play, but supports in-app purchases for special items and more. The game was released July 6 in Australia, New Zealand, and the United States, and the impact was almost immediate. Its opening day was plagued with multiple server crashes due to high demand, which prompted Niantic to pause its international release until they could address these issues. The game was released in Germany about a week later. How high was demand? Less than a week into its initial release, it became the fastest game to top the App Store and Google Play charts. It is... read more

Face Lift: Changes Coming To Facebook Trending Topics

Amid controversy about a potential political bias, Facebook will be changing its algorithm on how it generates its trending topics. Before we dive too far in, let’s take a look at what makes something trend on Facebook: In early 2014, the social media giant introduced Trending Topics to its newsfeed. Each topic is divided into one of 5 different categories, including top trends, politics, science and technology, entertainment, and sports. The way they determine what stories trend is similar to what Twitter does with its topics, but unlike its competition, Facebook’s results are a little more personalized to a certain extent. What will appear in that little sidebar is dependent on factors such as overall engagement (likes, shares, comments), timeliness, your location, and what Pages you’ve liked. Now that we’re caught up, let’s get into this story: Recently, the tech site Gizmodo cited an anonymous source who told them “news sources” were instructed to artificially insert stories into their list. More particularly, there were allegations of a liberal bias as more conservative-focused news items were not showing up on the side bar, despite trending organically amongst individual users. Read the full story here. Facebook has denied the allegations. According to a statement by founder Mark Zuckerberg, “We’ve built Facebook to be a platform for all ideas. Our community’s success depends on everyone feeling comfortable sharing anything they want. It doesn’t make sense for our mission or our business to suppress political content or prevent anyone from seeing what matters most to them.” Read the full statement here.  An investigation was launched. According to results, they found “no evidence of systematic... read more

Live From The Internet: Periscope vs. Facebook Live

The war between Facebook and Twitter has a new front. This time, it’s a battle between live streaming video. Which is better for your business? The acclaimed Periscope, or the up-and-coming Facebook Live? Today, we’ll take a look at both and help you make that decision. Since we’ve talked at length about Periscope in the past, let’s start out with Facebook Live: Earlier this year, the social media giant announced they would be rolling out their own service called “Facebook Live.” Users – from personal, business, groups, or even event pages – can now live stream their own videos across the platform at the push of a button using a smartphone or other device. Unlike Periscope, there’s no need to download anything else to use it, so long as you have the Facebook app. While this is going on, people can interact with your video, leaving their own comments, being able to ‘Like’ and share with their friends, and “react” (Facebook’s emoji-based system that can be used in place of a ‘Like’) to make the experience even more interactive. Since its launch, millions of people have embraced it. Up-and-coming bands have used Facebook Live to stream their concerts, television personalities host question and answer sessions with fans, late night hosts have taken viewers behind the scenes of their shows, and even professional sports teams have used it to broadcast warmups before the game starts. Regardless of how you it, there are many more possibilities for social media interaction thanks to live streaming video. Periscope: For those who missed it, here’s what happened: Nearly a year ago, Twitter acquired a... read more

#HappyBirthday: Milestones From Twitter’s 10th Anniversary

Happy birthday, Twitter! The micro-blogging network celebrated its 10th anniversary this week. Over the past decade, the little bird has seen a lot, and in honor of this momentous occasion, we’re going to take a look back at some of the milestones and innovations brought to us by Twitter: From the first tweet to the advent of the hashtag and beyond, it’s been an eventful decade to say the least. While we can’t run through them all, there’s still much to talk about. Without further ado, here are some of the biggest milestones in Twitter’s history: 1. The First Tweet: Everything has to have a beginning, and Twitter’s began March 21, 2006. Who sent it? None other than Founder and CEO Jack Dorsey. Note the spelling. just setting up my twttr — Jack (@jack) March 21, 2006 2. #Hashtag: The thing that has become a staple in almost every social media profile was introduced by Chris Messina in 2007. Its purpose? To help unify conversations around big topics. Since then, it has become a fixture for most media, from pop culture phenomenon (#TheDress, television shows) to major news stories (#BringBackOurGirls, #BostonStrong, #JeSuisCharlie). 3. Citizen Journalism: “Citizen journalism” is defined as a collection of information by the general public. In 2009, we got a taste of that when a US Airways flight made an emergency landing in the Hudson River. This wouldn’t be the last time. Local news and even national media outlets have taken to using tweets to gather information. In 2011, one user even inadvertently live-tweeted the raid on Osama Bin Laden’s compound. 4. The First Million: Many people reach... read more

Bank On It: Introducing Facebook For Nonprofits

Create a presence, raise awareness for your cause, engage supporters, raise money, and do it all from Facebook! The social media giant has launched a new part of their website designed specifically to help nonprofits and NGOs to get the most out of their respective pages. No matter how big or small your organization may be, getting your foot in the door – much less, making your voice heard- can be a tall task. Especially when your website has over one billion active users. Yes, it can be overwhelming, but with Facebook For Nonprofits, you can finally gain more traction on the world’s largest social network. The new Facebook For Nonprofits website acts as an instruction manual, giving organizations the essential tools they need to succeed. This includes tips on how to raise awareness, generating ‘likes,’ and if you don’t already have one, building a page. Think of it as an interactive roadmap, offering tips and tricks as they go along as to how to maximize impact. Plus, pages come equipped with a ‘Donate Now’ button. Users can now raise money for their cause or their organization via social media. Regardless of how big (or small) you are, your cause, or where you may be, Facebook hopes this new branch will help nonprofits strengthen their presence, while also teaching them how to better use social media to their advantage. Whether you’re trying to gain more supporters to help back your cause or you want to help raise money for a cause, Facebook For Nonprofits hopes to resolve some of the issues that often plague anyone across the platform. Some... read more

Creating Buzz: The Impact of Death Wish Coffee’s Super Bowl Ad

The Super Bowl has come and gone. The Denver Broncos may have won the championship, but the real winners of “Super Sunday?” It’s Death Wish Coffee, hailing from Upstate New York. We’ve talked a lot about Super Bowl commercials and the impact (or lack thereof), but many of them are big businesses who can afford the $5 million price tag for 30 seconds. There aren’t many times when you see a small business featured on the biggest stage in sports and television in general. Enter Intuit Quickbooks, who in 2015, announced the return of their Small Business Big Game contest. The winner would receive an all-expense paid television ad during the “Big Game.” In the end, Death Wish Coffee was the big winner, and for their prize, they received a free commercial that would air during the 3rd quarter. For those who may have missed it, the ad was one that was fit for a company that touts the “world’s strongest coffee.” Vikings were depicted rowing a ship during a storm set to dramatic music and the right quotes to match the situation. It was later revealed that it wasn’t really vikings rowing in a storm, but rather, a man enjoying a cup of Death Wish Coffee. In the end, some ads flop, while others enjoy success. For this small business, they fall into the latter category. The commercial was well-received by many, making several “best of” lists of the Super Bowl, including from Sports Illustrated and this website. As for how it impacted  them on the business side of things, sales of Death Wish Coffee spiked 400% in the... read more

10 Best Commercials From Super Bowl 50

The Super Bowl has come and gone. The Denver Broncos rule the football world, and we now live in a world where football is over until the fall. While the most dedicated sports fans are standing around discussing everything about the game (or the halftime show), the rest of us are talking about this year’s batch of commercials. That’s why today, we present to you the 10 best ads from the “Big Game.” Some made you laugh, some made you cry, some made you think, and others made you cringe (but we’ll talk about those later). Advertisers paid a cool $5 million for 30 seconds – up from $4.5 million a year ago. The results? Dogs in hot dog costumes, a museum of human culture in space, a puppymonkeybaby, Willem Dafoe as Marilyn Monroe, and more. No, not all of them were winners, but some did hit the mark. Here are the Super Bowl commercials we’re talking about today: 1. Avos In Space: For this year’s Super Bowl commercial, the superfood brand gave us a 1-minute clip featuring aliens, a museum of ancient human culture (airplane coach cabins are torture devices, #TheDress sparked a civil war), and Scott Baio. For its blend of humor, pop culture, and making us want to make some guacamole for the office, this is our best ad of the 2016 Super Bowl. 2. Helen Mirren PSA: Anheuser-Busch is a brand that encourages fun and hanging out with your buds. On that same note, they also go to great lengths to discourage drinking and driving (the dog commercial still chokes us up). This year, instead of pulling... read more

10 Memorable Super Bowl Commercials

The Super Bowl is coming, but if there's anything bigger than the "Big Game," it's the commercials. There have been some truly memorable ones over the years, and this year looks to be no different. So which ones are the best? What got you talking the next day at the water cooler? What stands the test of time? Today, we're going to take a look at 10 of the most memorable Super Bowl commercials. It seems like brands will go all-out when it comes to the Super Bowl. With over 100 million viewers, plenty of advertisers are willing to pay the steep price tag for 30 seconds. Some are funny, some are serious, some have a message that needs to get out, some are heartwarming, and some are just entertaining. Picking the 10 best over a span of 50 years is a tall task, so we’ve compiled some of the most memorable from the past and present: 1. Mean Joe Green: “Hey kid, catch!” A member of Pittsburgh’s infamous “Steel Curtain” in the 1970s, Mean Joe Green was part of what was considered the first blockbuster commercial in 1980. This iconic Coca-Cola commercial was later parodied in 2005 with Troy Polamalu, another all-pro defensive player for the Pittsburgh Steelers. 2. Apple Macintosh: A dystopian society, mindless drones, and a glimmer of hope for the future. That’s what Apple wanted to convey with this 1984 ad inspired by George Orwell’s novel “1984.” Interesting to note, this commercial only aired once on a national level, and that was during the Super Bowl. 3. The Force: Pop culture? German engineering? The most adorable Sith Lord... read more

Big Game’s Big Impact: Super Bowl Ads By The Numbers

The “Big Game” is almost here. Come February 7, the Denver Broncos and the Carolina Panthers will meet in Santa Clara, CA to determine who will reign supreme in the football world, but for as much noise as the game itself makes, it’s the commercials who will generate just as much – if not, more – buzz from start to finish. That’s why today, we’re going to take a look at Super Bowl ads, their impressive numbers, and what to expect this year. The Super Bowl is not only the biggest sporting event of the year, but also the biggest television night. A record 114.4 million viewers tuned in to last year’s game, shattering the previous year’s record of 112.2 million. In fact, this was only the seventh time in history a television program topped 100 million viewers. Six of those have been Super Bowls. The only one that wasn’t? The series finale of M*A*S*H, which drew 106 million. But it’s not just about the football. The ads have becoming as much a spectacle as anything on “Super Sunday.” According to a study, roughly one-quarter of viewers said that the commercials were the most important part of the show. With so many people watching the game – 75.8% of American adults – that makes ad space during the game prime real estate for those who want to market themselves. But be prepared to pony up if you want to buy ad time. During last year’s Super Bowl, NBC – the network carrying it that year – sold out of ad space at a record $4.5 million for 30 seconds. To put... read more

You’re In The Game: Introducing Facebook Sports Stadium

The Super Bowl is right around the corner. Come February 7, the Carolina Panthers and the Denver Broncos will battle it out for football supremacy. So how will you be watching? Facebook has recently launched a new app hoping to attract more sports fans during live broadcasts. Today, we’re going to take a look at the new Sports Stadium and how this will change your viewing experience. Social media has transformed the way many of us experience live television. More particularly, sports broadcasts. From live tweeting games to sharing games you’re currently watching via status updates, a community has been created amongst sports fans the world over, and all without even being in the same room as other likeminded supporters. Just ahead of the biggest sporting event in the world, Facebook is rolling out its next ambitious project: Sports Stadium. “With 650 million sports fans, Facebook is the world’s largest stadium. People already turn to Facebook to celebrate, commiserate, and talk trash with their friends and other fans.” In a nutshell, Facebook Sports Stadium is an interactive new app that will not only connect sports fans with others, but also provide a platform that will give them real-time score updates, plays, live analysis, and more. According to a blog post, here is what Sports Stadium can do: View posts from friends and comment on plays Posts and commentary from experts and analysts, teams, leagues, journalists and beat writers, and you can easily access their respective pages Live scores, stats, and play-by-play Game info and where and how you can watch the game How does it compare to Twitter? All... read more

Live From Twitter: The Rise of Periscope

Twitter is on the downswing. It’s no secret. Sure, it still has millions of active users, but overall growth is stagnant and the product has changed very little (even after changing “Favorites” to “Likes” and news of increasing its character limit to 10,000). However, this is one part of the micro-blogging service that is gaining serious traction, and you can watch it live wherever you go. Today, we’ll take a look at Periscope, its popularity, and where we go from here. Much has happened to Periscope since its official launch less than a year ago. The Twitter-owned service that allows users to live broadcast their own videos. In the time it has been active, it has attracted over 100 million broadcast. More than 40 years of content is being watched on the app every day. Want another statistic? In its first 4 months, Periscope has garnered 2 million active users. Compared to Twitter during its first 4 months, only 50,000 jumped on back in 2006 and 2007. Long story short, Periscope is popular. So much so that it was named Apple’s top all of 2015. In a time when Twitter as a whole is trudging through water, this is what can keep the company afloat. Also working in their favor? Meerkat has gone to the wayside and the impending Facebook Live has yet to become available to everyone. This makes Periscope look like an even more attractive choice to users, whether you’re someone who wants to broadcast their daily life or you’re a marketer giving your customers a behind-the-curtains peek. What’s next for the app? Recently, Periscope and Twitter announced a... read more

Re-Snap: Replays Coming to Snapchat For a Price

Snaps are here today, and gone in an instant, but what if there was a way you could see something again? According to Snapchat, replays are coming to the service, but only if you’re willing to pay for it… Snapchat is one of the fastest growing apps on the market, especially amongst Millennials and the younger crowd. That being the case, it was only a matter of time before the company tried to monetize their creation. This came in the form of paid ads and the introduction of native video. For their next move, they plan on capitalizing on its biggest feature. In a recent blog post, Snapchat announced they would be allowing replays on their service for the first time ever. Did you miss a photo you opened? Maybe you want to watch that video you received again? Now it’s possible! According to Snapchat, “We introduced Replay in Additional Services almost two years ago, and we’ve used it to relive those amazing moments (or the ones we weren’t paying attention to…) just one more time before they disappear. We’ve provided one Replay per Snapchatter per day, sometimes frustrating the millions of Snapchatters who receive many daily Snaps deserving of a Replay. But then we realized — a Replay is like a compliment! So why stop at just one?” Of course, there is a catch. As was specified, users are allotted one replay per 24 hour period. If you want more, you’ll have to pay. Additional snaps can be purchased in-app, and at this current time, users can get 3 of them for $.99. The company promises they won’t deviate... read more

Lock Down?: Ashley Madison and the Issue of Cyber Security

How safe is your information on the internet? Between recent hacks and data leaks, the conversation over cyber security has been a hot topic. What does this mean for the future? How does this affect things going forward? Let’s take a look… As we all know by this point, Ashley Madison – the extramarital dating website – was recently hacked by a group known as “The Impact Team.” The group threatened to release the information of its users if the site was not shut down. Needless to say, over 37 million registered users were exposed, having their names and personal information leaked. Avid Life Media – the company behind Ashley Madison – has attempted to use the Digital Millennium Copyright Act to help control the leaks and help pull the information off some websites, but once the damage has been done, there isn’t much that can be done about it. However, this post is not to talk about the moral/ethical implications of joining Ashley Madison (including the information of those who had accounts but never used it). Rather, it’s to talk about the issue of cyber security. According to documents obtained as part of the data leak, Ashley Madison’s staff had raised concerns over how secure the service really was, citing a “lack of security weakness across the organization” as recently as June, roughly a month before the cyberattack. However, the company did very little to address the problem and raising questions of how fraudulent they were. How does this affect things going forward? For one, even if you weren’t actively using the service, you’re still at risk. Many accounts... read more

Want a Bite?: The Best Sharknado 3 Tweets

DISCLAIMER: The following contains spoilers about the ending of Sharknado 3. If you haven’t seen it and you don’t want to spoiled, look away now. Another Sharknado has come and gone, and in its wake, it has left a trail of bad jokes, cameo appearances, cheesy dialogue, and a social media reaction that could rival any massive “Sharkicane” moving in to your area. In honor of the third installment of SyFy’s mostly awesomely bad trilogy (with a forth having already been greenlit at the time of this writing), we’re going to take a look at the social media storm that hit living rooms around the world last night. SyFy’s campy horror flick debuted in 2013 and quickly became an overnight sensation, drawing millions of viewers and an endless array of tweets raining down on us like, well, you know. In the years following, two more sequels have been released (the aptly titled Sharknado 2: The Second One, and the latest installment Sharknado 3: Oh Hell No!) and millions continue to tune in, realism and storytelling be damned. Yes, it has all the depth of a puddle and the films have gotten increasingly more ridiculous than the concept (a tornado full of sharks terrorizes Los Angeles, then New York, and now Washington DC and Orlando), it still remains everyone’s favorite low-budget guilty pleasure. Of course, like anything big television event like this, Sharknado 3 ignited a fury of responses across Twitter – reportedly it made over 2 billion impressions. Many of which came from brands trying to capitalize on the moment (also see: newsjacking). From snack companies to wireless providers, everyone... read more

Buy or Sell: Facebook Testing Stores on Pages

Facebook has long been viewed as a gateway to new customers and sales. Now after being absent for several years, the number 1 social network in the world is bringing back something that could push it even further: storefronts and “buy now” buttons on pages. The move – which was confirmed to BuzzFeed News – is the latest in a series of attempts to bolster Facebook’s commerce strategy. According to Marketing Manager Emma Rodgers, the shop section on pages is “…now providing businesses with the ability to showcase their products directly on the page.” If successful, this can go a long way towards making the platform not just a way to market themselves and attract customers, but to sell to them directly. Facebook does not take a cut of the sales by doing it this way, but the hopes are that it will attract more advertisers to the platform. During this time, Facebook stores are only testing “in the double-digits,” with more to be promised at a later date. Specific pages were not mentioned. This isn’t the first time Facebook has tested stores on their business pages. Back in 2009, 1-800-Flowers had set up a storefront on their page, and while the conversion rate may have been high amongst those who found it, not many people knew about it. Through 2012, brands such as GameStop, JC Penny, and Nordstrom opened and closed their Facebook storefronts citing factors such as poor traffic and familiarity with e-commerce on their own websites. Therein lies the biggest challenge when it comes to Facebook stores. Out of its millions of users, not many of them associate Facebook... read more

Watch It Explode: The Rise of Native Video

A picture is worth a thousand words, and a native video ad can be worth even more. What was once thought to be a flash in the pan has become one of the most preferred mediums across the social media world. Its impact has been big, and it’s only going to get bigger as we move forward. For those who don’t know, “native advertising” refers to ads that are embedded within its environment. It’s not something that’s completely overt, but rather, more like a photo or a video that looks like it belongs in your News Feed or timeline. Had it not be for the icon that denotes “sponsored” or “paid ad,” you’d think it was just another thing. Many take the form of photos or videos. For the purposes of this post, this will only focus on the latter. Facebook introduced the autoplay function of native video ads, with many wondering how effective it would be (or how users would respond to it). The end result was not a detriment, but rather, a new innovation for how to incorporate video ads into social media marketing. Since then, other platforms have begun rolling out their own native videos, including Twitter (launched earlier this year), Instagram, Pinterest (“cinematic pins”), and even Snapchat. Why are so many incorporating native video? Quite simply, if it wasn’t effective, then marketers wouldn’t even go near it. The numbers suggest there is a significant chunk of people it is reaching, and the part that makes marketers excited? That number is growing. Currently, video makes up 78% of internet data and counting. By 2018, it is expected... read more

Snapping To It: Snapchat To Launch Native Video Ads

Pinterest is doing it, Instagram is doing it, and now Snapchat may be the next to revamp their paid advertising method. The popular photo-sharing platform has announced they will be adding native video ads in the near future. It was only a matter of time. As it stands, Snapchat boasts over 100 million active daily users, and is considered one of the most important social apps amongst teenagers and Millennials. Earlier this year, the brand launched Snapchat Discover, their advertising medium. Then last month, CEO Evan Spiegel began talking about the “future,” and expressed his desire to want to turn Snapchat into a platform for storytelling. The end result his new video ad platform called “3V,” or “Vertical, Video, Views.” The move was announced during the recent Cannes Lions Festival. While video ads are nothing new (as we’ve talked about in recent weeks, Instagram and Pinterest introduced it almost simultaneously), Spiegel promises this one will be different. How so? Mobile-Only: Much like everything else on Snapchat, these ads are built from the ground up for mobile, just like everything else within the messaging app. No-Target Marketing?: During his presentation, Spiegel mentioned that he wanted to stray away from “creepy” advertising practices. He stated that “…with beautiful, full-screen video on mobile, we can build ad products that respect our community and their privacy. That’s something that’s really important.” However, upon further examination, it appears that there are targeting tools such as the Discover Channel and Live Stories, but it’s mostly a call to say that user data will remain private. At a Place Called “Vertical”: As one of the Vs in “3V,” video... read more

Time Keeps On Slippin’: Facebook News Feed To Factor In Time Spent On Posts

We spend a lot of time on Facebook – approximately 40 minutes per day – and that time can now influence how stories appear on your News Feed. A recent update to the algorithm will take into consideration the amount of time users spend on posts, and thus how it appears on the page. As such, we’re going to be spending this post talking about the changes coming to Facebook, and how you can plan accordingly… Facebook’s News Feed is something we’ve talked about before. In a previous iteration, stories that appeared were largely influenced by how many ‘likes’ and comments it gets, how often it gets shared, and overall, how much engagement it creates. Those who got plenty of the aforementioned criteria saw their posts pop up more frequently. But according to software engineers Ansha Yu and Sami Tas, users don’t necessarily like, comment, or share every single post that they enjoy or feel are important. This is what the new update will reflect. Here’s an explanation Facebook gave in a recent blog post: “For example, you may scroll quickly through your News Feed and like a photo of your friend’s graduation, followed by sharing a funny post from your sister. You keep scrolling and happen upon a post your cousin shared detailing everything she did and saw on her recent trip. Her post even includes a photo. You spend time reading her post and the interesting discussion about the best places to eat that had broken out in the comments on this post, but you don’t feel inclined to like or comment on it yourself. Based on... read more