Friday Wrap #178: Ice Bucket Challenge redux, sponsored Reddit posts, social network dissatisfaction

Friday Wrap 178Welcome to the Friday Wrap, 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. As always, I collect material from which I select Wrap stories (as well as stories to report on the For Immediate Release podcast, along with stuff I just want to remember to read) on my link blog, which you’re welcome to follow. If you want to make sure you never miss an edition of the Wrap, along with extra material only for subscribers, sign up for my weekly email briefing.


Ice Bucket Challenge is BACK, baby—Not that anybody is subjecting themselves to a bucket of ice over their heads, but people are revisiting the 2014 stunt since the ALS Association announced is has identified a new gene that causes the disease thanks to the $115 million the Challenge raised. Once the Association shared the news, Twitter users reshared images and videos. The takeaway: From time to time, revisit your past communications to see if anything might be ripe for bringing back. Read more

Twitter launches stickers nobody asked for—Not happy being one of the few social services without stickers, Twitter is now making them available to everyone so you can decorate the photos you share across your network. A library of various images lets you choose from among accessories, emojis, and other categories. The takeaway: While I don’t anticipate Twitter users flocking to use stickers, it is one more sign of the importance of visuals. Communicators need to elevate visual communication as a core consideration in communication planning. Read more

Marketers can sponsor Redditors’ posts—Marketers will be able to spot user posts on Reddit and promote them (as long as the user is okay with that) under a new advertising offering. Users who go along will get a lifetime of Reddit Gold, an incentive that gives users a reputation boost and special privileges. A team of strategists will work with brands to let them know when a sponsor-friendly post has appeared. The move will let Reddit generate revenue in a way (it hopes) won’t infuriate its base. The takeaway: Reddit has a long ways to go to catch up to some of the bigger players in social media, but the enthusiasm of its base and its reputation for being the place trends surface first mean it has the potential for growth. For marketers and communicators, being able to reach redditors without angering them could represent an intriguing new paid channel. Read more

Will McDonald’s ever learn?—McDonald’s has critics, yet the company continues to launch social campaigns that are primed to be taken over by those critics. The latest comes from McDonald’s New Zealand, which introduced a site that let people design and name their own burgers. Participants were supposed to get free fries and a soft drink, but the site was shut down after less-than-flattering creations appeared. The takeaway: McDonald’s latest failed social effort is one more opportunity for me to plead with communicators to project yourself into the future, after the campaign has failed, and ask: What went wrong? It should be a standard step in the strategic plan. Read more

Remember Trillian?—Back in the day, Trillian was a must-have tool that let you access AOL Messenger and a host of other instant messengers from a single interface. (It’s still around, connecting to Skype, Facebook, Twitter, ICQ and others.) Now there’s All-in-One Messenger, available on Chrome, that lets you Skype, use WhatsApp, Slack, Facebook Messenger, WeChat, HipChat, Wire and a host of other services from a single interface. The takeaway: I’ve been waiting for something like this. Now if we can just get one that works on a smartphone. Read more

Among other uses, Pokémon Go can be used for recruiting—At least, one company is giving it a try. They figured out where Pokéstops and Pokémon Gyms were close to their location, then set up lures to entice people to make the trip. (Lures are under $50 for an entire day.) Team members are using “incense,” which provides an additional incentive for people within 30 miles of the location to visit. Once nearby, they find an office happy hour in full swing, giving recruiters an opportunity to engage with visitors. It’s an experiment, to be sure, “but at a cost of $50 and drinks, the team is willing to take that risk.” The takeaway: Expect more location-based games to crop up based on Pokémon Go’s success. If you have physical locations, consider how these games can serve your business goals. Read more

Facebook introduces video subscription channels—If you weren’t sure how serious Facebook is about mobile video, consider the latest features it’s testing on the Android version of its app: a dedicated video tab and subscription-based channels. Video content is categorized under a tab available from the News Feed. You’ll get live videos and archived videos based on the categories you’re interested in or subscribed to. You’ll also be able to search for videos from the tab. The takeaway: Some of these features mimic YouTube, but Facebook needs to make adjustments to make video access easier and ease some advertisers’ concerns. If you’re not yet sharing videos on Facebook, but rather leaving them on YouTube alone, why not consider the multi-channel approach? (I’m sharing my videos on Facebook, YouTube, and LinkedIn.) Read more

AP introduces native ad division—ContentWorks is the name of Associated Press’s division that will develop and distribute content for brands and agencies. The native ads will be delivered across the AP’s membership, which includes some 1,400 newspapers and thousands of electronic media outlets. AP has stressed that the native ads will be transparent. “We never want a reader to feel tricked by something we do,” a representative said. The takeaway: Love it or hate it, native advertising isn’t going anywhere. In fact, all indicators suggest it continues to grow and spread. If you haven’t considered a native advertising approach to a communication issue, maybe it’s time. Read more


Sub-groups have similar responses to crises—People who share common vocations react similarly to a crisis even if they have no other connection to one another. Research from the School of Journalism at the University of Missouri scoured tweets to gauge reactions to last year’s movie, “Concussion,” which addressed the issue of concussions in football and cast the NFL in a dubious light. People working in healthcare saw the movie positively and liked the fact that it raised awareness of the need for brain trauma research. Athletes liked it, too, and the fact that it raised awareness of concussions in sports. Layers found themselves discussing the NFL. “The study sheds light on how large groups of relatively unorganized people on Twitter can come together to develop specific attitudes and stances toward organizations or topics and issues,” one of the researchers said. The takeaway: To benefit from this research, you need to separate responses into categories based on the sub-publics you’ve identified, then craft appropriate messages to send to each audience. Read more

Most ad-blocking users would shut it off if ads got less annoying—Ad blockers are the bane of advertisers’ and publishers’ existence. But research from the Interactive Advertising Bureau finds that two-thirds of people who use the software would uninstall them if the produced less intrusive and resource-hogging ads. ( Currently, the best way to get people to disable ad blockers is to restrict access to content while notifying the user that the content would show up again if they turned their ad blockers off, which is kinda like extortion.) The IAB says respondents are inclined to turn the software off if advertisers adopt the LEAN principles for ads: Light, Encrypted, Ad choice supported and Non-invasive. The takeaway: If you have any influence over your company’s clients’ advertising group, wield it to get these principles adopted. It’s long past time to get advertising—particularly mobile advertising—right. Read more

Social network enthusiasm is slipping—The American Consumer Satisfaction Index finds consumers are viewing the top social networks less favorably than in previous years. Facebook and twitter suffered 9% and 8% declines in favorability respectively, with advertising accounting for much of the growing disillusionment. LinkedIn’s score dropped 4%. The takeaway: Don’t expect people to stop using these services—especially Facebook—but it’s never good when people feel like they have to use a service rather than want to. Read more

People more likely to buy from brands using VR—Take it with a grain of salt since it comes from a VR company, but a survey found 71% of consumers believe Virtual Reality makes the brands that use it seem “forward-thinking and modern,” while 53% said they’re more inclined to buy from a brand that uses VR as opposed to one that doesn’t. The takeaway: This response won’t last long, since VR will be mainstream in the next few years. Still, it’s real right now, so why not take advantage of it? Read more


Video was behind Verizon’s acquisition of Yahoo—Verizon envisions itself as a mobile video giant able to compete with Google and Facebook. During an earnings call, Chairman and CEO Lowell McAdam stressed he was most excited about Yahoo’s mobile video products. The takeaway: I’ll wait to see what Verizon offers to differentiate itself, but McAdam recognizes that there is a desire among content creators for alternatives to Facebook and Google. Read more

Corporations can no longer hide behind their brands—Time was most consumers had no idea who Church & Dwight was, and that was fine with Church & Dwight, as long as people knew what their cornerstone product was: Arm & Hammer Baking Soda. Today, easy access to information has “lifted the veil of the company behind the product and therefore these brands are becoming ever more interlinked,” according to McKinsey & Company. Corporations are also more visible as they work to create employer brands, project their values, and build trust. Consequently, a “higher level of coordination between different parts of the business, and a more frequent evaluation of portfolio and architecture opportunities” becomes a requirement.  The takeaway: The article concludes: “To achieve consistency to express the corporate brand, various functions such as PR, Corporate Communications, Corporate Responsibility, and Investor Relations should also be more closely aligned.” What I’ve been saying: Let’s ventilate those silos and coordinate our efforts. (Or, as I’ve heard somebody say recently, we’re stronger together.) Read more

Have you used yet?—I confess, I hadn’t heard of it until I read Gary Vaynerchuk’s Medium post, but apparently it’s all the rage among the 7-to-16-year-old set. It lets you create 15-second videos of yourself lip-syncing to popular music and other audio.  Gary thinks “it’s the only platform that has the potential to become the ‘next Snapchat’—a platform with incredible influence and the ability to keep relevant.” He notes it’s being used as a tool, letting younger users become content producers with a wide range of resources, like filters, video and audio speed control, and access to professional audio. The takeaway: As Gary says, it’s a mistake to dismiss as a fad. The kind of growing popularity we’re seeing with could be the sign of a new whole new category of social tool. Read more

Chatbots will rise first in the enterprise—Thousands of chatbots are already busily engaging in interactions across a variety of platforms, notably Facebook Messenger, but they’ll become mainstream inside organizations before they’re widely adopted externally, according to Chatbots Magazine. The reason: They’re being adopted in the enterprise to address very specific productivity needs, while in the consumer space, guesswork is in play around the reasons for developing most bots. The bots being employed in Slack and other workplace tools address very real uses that reduce hassle and friction for employees. The takeaway: Have you seen which bots employees in your company are using via Slack? You probably already have some employee research about pain points at work. Align those with possible remedies via chatbot as a way to introduce the technology to your workers. Read more

How is your company using Facebook Live?—With a steady stream of enhancements and a growing audience, Facebook Live is attracting brands at a frantic pace. Among the ways marketers are tapping into the live social video tool: addressing trending topics in their industry, offering behind-the-scenes glimpses into the business, broadcasting live events, interviewing experts (including employees and customers), and reporting on news and company activities. The takeaway: I hear a lot of people dismissing Facebook Live for various reasons ranging from a lack of time to skepticism that a broadcast will accomplish anything. My advice, innovate a hook for a recurring broadcast and experiment. Even if it doesn’t pay off directly, you’ll learn a lot about live broadcasting you can apply later. Read more

Communication as experience—Most marketing communication is designed to sell a product, but research shows people derive happiness from experiences more than from things. That means marketing communication can be more successful if it moves people along their journey. The Halvorson Group has cataloged that journey “from initial exploration to post-purchase across 13 different categories, from insurance to facial tissue, measuring the number of days the journey took, as well as all the behaviors in the process and the motivation fo those behaviors,” writes Halvorson’s Brad Bane. The takeaway: Rethink your communication from the experience angle. From the conclusion of the article: ” If you know that your audience is open to, or even craving, a journey, imagine the content you can provide to make that journey—and ultimately, the purchase of your product—more fulfilling. Build the anticipation just the right amount (through all the right messaging) and you dramatically increase your chances of having a happy customer.” And by the way, that goes for internal communication, too. Read more

This week’s wrap image comes courtesy of Kerstin (aka Ella T.)‘s Flickr account. She notes that it’s DC Kraft wrapping paper folded into a hexagon grid.