Friday Wrap #160: Twitter Q&As gone bad, Virtual Reality gets real, Meerkat swims with sharks

Friday Wrap #160
Flickr photo of wrapped-up dinosaurs courtesy of Matt Brown
The Friday Wrap is my weekly collection of news stories, posts, studies, and reports designed to help organizational communicators stay current on the trends and technology that affect their jobs. These may be items that flew under the radar while other stories grabbed big headlines. Of special note this week: The number of stories on the adoption of Virtual and Augmented Reality warranted its own special section. As always, I collect material from which I select Wrap stories (as well as stories to report on the For Immediate Release podcast) on my link blog, which you’re welcome to follow.

News

Now there’s a waiting list for IPv4 address blocks—The warnings have been out there for some time: Make the move to IPv6 soon because the Internet is running out of IPv4 addresses, the unique numeral combination that represents a location on the internet. We have now hit that wall with an announcement from the American Registry for Internet Numbers that it has started an “unmet requests” policy, effectively creating a waiting list for anyone who still wants a block of addresses. Smaller blocks might still be available, but the 4.3 billion addresses in the total pool wasn’t going to last forever. Read more

Millennials outnumber Boomers—A significant demographic milestone has occurred. Baby Boomers are no longer the most populous demographic in America. Millennials have surpassed them, representing a full one-fourth of the U.S. population. In addition to accounting for 83.1 million people, it’s the most diverse generation of any that came before, with 44.2% belonging to a minority race or ethnic group. Overall, 37.9% of Americans identified as minorities in the last Census. Clearly, marketers need to keep these demographics in mind when crafting messages they hope will be relevant to customers and prospects. Read more

Twitter Q&A goes bad for 50 Shades of Grey author—Do we still need cautionary tales about real-time online activities? Apparently so, since for some inexplicable reason nobody associated with E.L. James’ Twitter Q&A considered what might possibly go wrong. The stream of questions quickly veered from what James and her handlers had in mind, with questions like, “Which do you hate more, women or the English language?” and “After the success of ‘Grey,” have you considered retelling the story from the perspective of someone who can write?” And then there was, “I’d rather #AskELJames’s publicist why the thought this was going to be a good idea.” Read more

Twitter Q&A goes even worse for presidential candidate Bobby Jindal—If you think the questions fired at E.L. James were bad, they were nothing compared to the snark Republican presidential candidate Bobby Jindal faced with his Twitter Q&A. (Again, who failed to realize that this was absolutely, inescapably inevitable?) Responding to the #AskBobby hashtag, questions flooded the stream like “Did Jesus ride dinosaurs with or without a saddle?” and “What’s your all-time favorite exorcism? Why?” and “How does it feel to sell your soul for political gain and yet not gain anything politically?” And, just as with the James Twitter session, this question came up: “When are widely disliked famous people going to learn how Twitter works?!?” That’s a really, really good question. Read more

Hollywood publicity firm called out for Wikipedia violations—Wikipedia’s new rules couldn’t be clearer: You have to disclose it if you’ve paid someone to edit the online encyclopedia’s articles. Sunshine Sachs, a top-tier entertainment publicity firm, is claiming ignorance after being called out for doing just that. An email from the firm to clients promoted the firm’s ability to help clients edit their pages. “Sunshine Sachs has a number of experienced editors on staff that have established profiles on Wikipedia,” according to the email. “The changes we make to existing pages are rarely challenged.” Read more

Supreme Court declines to address Oracle-Google API dispute—Application Protocol Interfaces—APIs—let computer programs communicate with one another. For example, the Google Maps API lets developers build maps into their programs. Oracle is suing Google for using parts of Java’s APIs in the Android operating system; Oracle took ownership of Java when it acquired Sun Microsystems. The case went all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court which, on the last day of its term, declined to answer the question of whether one company can own an API. That’s a victory for Oracle, but it also throws into doubt the use of APIs in general. Developers have long assumed APIs fall outside of copyright laws. Read more

Virtual and Augmented Reality

Business schools turn to virtual reality for remote students—A new wrinkle is coming to eLearning. Some high-ranking business schools are looking to virtual reality to give remote students “an immersive level of connectivity that goes beyond that of the traditional online forum.” Among those exploring VR are Stanford and (not surprisingly) MIT, both of which allow students to attend classes by way of an avatar participating in a virtual space that looks like the physical campus. Read more

Disney could bring VR to video games—The Walt Disney Company is exploring both Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality for its Infinity game-and-toy business along with video games from other corners of its entertainment empire. Reuters reports Disney could even build new games just for the platforms. The games would take advantage of emerging VR products like Facebook’s Oculus rift and Microsoft’s HoloLens. Read more

Augmented Reality comes to the Metropolitan Museum of Art—After installing the app Blippar on your phone, you can point it at First Steps, a Van Gogh painting, and a baby takes its first steps from its mother to its father, the motion the artist had in mind when he painted his still image. The goal is to create something “new and uniquely digital that adds to what is on the Met’s floor” while still delivering a compelling in-person experience. Read more

Firefox is integrating VR into browser—Outside developers are testing a version of the Firefox browser with built-in VR technology. The idea is to make web surfing more like game-playing or watching a movie. The browser would be used in conjunction with VR devices like the Oculus Rift. Read more

Trends

Social media stars replace celebrities in Australian magazines—If you have teenage kids, ask them to name some YouTube stars. You may have never heard of them, but your kids have. In Australia, magazine publishers recognize the shift and are replacing household-name celebrities with social media stars. Elle Australia, for instance, has fashion blogger Nicole Warne on its July cover while magazine Dolly has put YouTube star Zoella on its cover. The trend is indicative of recognition that social media stars are moving into the mainstream—at least, with the right (that is, young) audiences, where they wield more influence than, say, Nicole Kidman. Read more

Brands embrace the resurgent popularity of GIFs—Social media users are having a blast with animated GIFs and social sites like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram are accommodating them with updates that let them share the short looping hybrid between a video and an image. Brands are starting to pay attention to this trend of communicating with moving graphics instead of words, and companies like Giphy and Tumblr are creating branded GIFs for marketers. Meanwhile marketers are bringing GIF design capability in-house. The newly released Terminator movie was promoted with six GIFs, for example. Read more

Print lives—So says Pablo Del Campo, worldwide creative director at Saatchi & Saatchi. Del Campo says digital media has seduced marketers, “and not necessarily because it’s more effective,” but rather just because it’s new. While the use of print has been declining in the rush to digital, it’s still powerful, Del Campo says, who thinks magazines and newspapers are perhaps more effective than people give them credit for.” Read more

A practical use for selfies: Authentication—No less a financial institution than MasterCard is testing the idea of using a selfie to authenticate a user paying for purchases online. Using the MasterCard app, a user would be asked to scan their fingerprint or their face. If you think a crook could just force you to look at the camera to force a payment, the technology lets you blink to stop such nefarious behavior. No word on whether customers will get a free selfie stick when they open a new account. Read more

Yammer has had an impact on Microsoft—I’m not talking about sales, since Microsoft owns Yammer. I’m talking about the company’s culture as employees have embraced the tool for internal collaboration. Product work is happening in public Yammer groups as employees find the tool helps employees align on their projects and improve efficiency. It’s always nice to see a company eat its own dog food. Read more

An inside look at IBM’s employee ambassador program—Some 1,000 IBMers have participated in an ambassador program, tapping into an online hub designed to let them share promotions on Twitter, LinkedIn, and Facebook, and to share information privately with marketing and sales. More IBM staff are “banging down the door” to participate. The program follows an earlier initiative in which employees were major contributors to 120 million digital impressions and 141,000 clicks to campaign content—all driven by simple leader-board-based gamification. Read more

Mobile

Meerkat will be part of Shark Week—The live mobile video streaming app Meerkat—the one nobody has been talking about as Periscope grabs all the headlines—has unveiled an embeddable player on Discovery Channel’s SharkWeek.com that will deliver unique streams. These special streams will feature “finbassador” educators, cinematographers, conservations, and other shark experts that fans will watch on a second screen in parallel with the shows being broadcast over the TV network. Read more

Push notifications drive high retention rates—Push notifications drove the average 90-day retention rate for mobile apps by 180%, according to a study by mobile marketing provider Kahuna. 30- and 60-day retention rates were also positively affected by push notifications. Read more

In-app messaging also builds retention—While only one-third of app marketers are employing in-app messaging, those who do are getting 3.5 times better retention—that’s a 50% third-month retention of new users, according to app analytics and marketing platform Localytics. Read more

The Change Log

Twitter adds user “personas”—To make it easier for brands to target the right audiences with promoted tweets, Twitter has introduced “personas,” categories of users grouped around common characteristics. The broad categories include college grads, millennials, Generation X, Baby Boomers, professionals, small businesses, adults 18-54, parents, >$100K income, seniors, and business decision-makers. Not exactly the granular targeting available from Facebook, but it’s a start. Read more

Instagram search will include curated current-event photos—Instagram has begun scouring the 70 million photos and videos users post every day with the goal of immersing users in current events ranging from a Taylor Swift concert to the memorials for victims of the recent massacre in South Carolina. Using the Explore button, users will see what algorithms determine are the most important images from events and places. Instagram will also hand-curate collections on topics such as extreme athletes and deserted islands. The goal: Better help users discover great content. Read more

Slack adds bot to identify freelancers in your network—Enterprise collaboration tool Slack has added Shido, which connects you with people who can complete tasks for you within four hours, all without ever leaving your Slack channel. The most common tasks for which Shido is being used include blog writing, proofreading, press releases, branding, banners, social media graphics, logo refreshes, landing pages, and infographics. The freelancers available through the service are all part of the Speedlancer network. Read more

Facebook adjusts algorithm to favor videos that drew user interaction—Never satisfied with its News Feed algorithm, Facebook has made yet another change that will inject videos into your feed based more on how users have interacted with those videos rather than how popular they were. Positive interactions include unmuting and expanding to full screen, while popularity is based on likes, shares, and play counts. (Keep reading to see how Facebook is favoring native videos over links to third-party clips.) Read more

Research

It’s true! It’s true! Facebook favors native video—We’ve been hearing for months that Facebook favors videos uploaded directly to the service over those shared by link from a third-party source (notably YouTube), but until Search Engine Journal decided to test it, there was no proof it was true. The study found that native videos reach twice as many people, leading to twice as many likes, triple the shares, and seven times the comments. Search Engine Journal is quick to note that there’s no direct proof that Facebook’s algorithms are responsible or if native videos just perform better, “but either way, native video uploads on Facebook does seem to be the best approach right now.” Read more

Fired and laid-off workers post negative reviews—It should come as no shock that workers fired or laid off don’t have the warmest, cuddliest feelings about the company that cut them loose. New research, though, shows 38% of them will post negative reviews on review sites like Glassdoor and via social media. That’s backlash for which companies planning layoffs need to prepare. Read more