Friday Wrap #146: Up Periscope, FTC looks at IoT, Comcast gets social serious, lots of Facebook news

Friday Wrap 146
Flickr photo courtesy of Duncan Holmes
The Friday Wrap is a review of news, posts, reports, and other items appearing in the last week that will help you stay on top of the forces shaping communication in this fast-paced, ever-changing environment. These are stories that may have been lost in the flood of headline news stories. This week, in the wake of Facebook’s F8 conference, there’s so much Facebook news that I’ve set it off in a separate section. I collect all of the items from which I choose the Wrap stories in my link blog, which you’re welcome to follow.


Twitter launches Meerkat competitor to glowing reviews—Thanks to its introduction at South by Southwest, Meerkat has been getting a ton of buzz, with marketers jumping on board. Hot on its heels comes Periscope, the mobile streaming app twitter acquired (and which led Twitter to hobble Meerkat’s ability to tap into a user’s Twitter followers). Both are available only on the iOS platform for now. Early reviews, however, indicate Periscope is a superior product, so brands will undoubtedly flock to it. Read more

FTC adds investigative arm to address Internet of Things—The U.S. Federal Trade Commission announced the creation of the Office of Technology Research and Investigation, tasked with looking into consumer privacy in the era of connected devices and big data. Some 15 lawyers and technologists currently work for the unit, which will work closely with the FTC’s Internet Lab. Read more

India’s Supreme Court lifts ban on offensive online speech—A law in India that empowered authorities to imprison people who posted offensive messages on Facebook (and other social sites) was struck down by India’s top court. The law had been challenged by law students, bloggers, writers, and rights activists. Read more

Comcast triples size of its social media customer service staff—Comcast, hammered recently over a series of customer service gaffes, is hiring 40 new social care specialists, tripling the size of its current staff. The team answers questions and complaints received via Twitter, Facebook, and other social media channels. One has to wonder whether that’s enough to overcome the culture that has led to some of its more visible crises. Read more

American named top social media airline—American Airlines is tops in social media, according to a new survey, while United scored well on Twitter but didn’t make the top 10 in Facebook usage. Delta ranked third on Facebook and sixth on Twitter. The report says American’s use of Facebook “not only provides company information, it also posts about worldwide events and relates it back to the airline industry.” It uses Twitter to create a dialog with followers by responding to customer tweets. Read more

Twitter testing autoplay videos—Twitter users with the iPhone and iPad apps will start noticing videos that play even when they haven’t pressed the play button. The company is engaged in a two-phased test to see if users are more inclined to watch videos that begin playing automatically, as they do on Facebook. Read more


Facebook Messenger becomes a platform—When Facebook separated Messenger from its all-purpose Facebook app, users voiced outrage. Since then, it has become wildly popular, and other features have been added. At this year’s F8, the annual conference where Facebook outlines its agenda, the company announced that it’s making Messenger’s API available to third-party developers. Most early developers have been working on content creation. Ditty, for example, is an app that lets you choose a song and insert your own lyrics; the app then incorporates your message into the tune, creates a lyric video, then lets you share it with one push via Messenger. Read more

Messenger for Business—New Messenger chief David Marcus—formerly CEO of PayPal—introduced a new feature at F8 that enables users to connect directly with businesses in order to simplify transactions. Facebook has two launch partners, a clothing site, and a mom-focused deals site, which has incorporated Facebook’s services into its checkout page. Consumers can opt into updates after completing a purchase, and a mobile push notification provides an opportunity to continue getting information, such as shipping updates, modification of an order, or another purchase, all within Messenger. Read more

Facebook may become a news platform—Facebook has been engaged in discussions with news organizations about the prospect of hosting their content. The New York Times, Buzzfeed, and National Geographic would be among the first partners to test Facebook as a potential front end for their content. As a source of news content, traffic to the news organizations’ own sites would diminish. Read more

User comments less visible on company Facebook pages—A recent revision to Facebook Pages has reduced the visibility of user comments. Rather than seeing them in a dedicated section of the page, users will have to click an icon to view them or, in other cases, scroll down the left-hand side of the page. The adjustment “provides some relief to chains…whose missteps have prompted considerable customer wrath in Facebook comments,” according to The Globe and Mail. The change won’t make users happy, though, since Facebook is supposed to be about open dialog. Read more

360-degree “social” videos coming to Facebook—and Oculus Rift—360-degree videos that recreate real places are coming to Facebook; you’ll be able to move through the videos by tilting your smartphone back and forth. These videos will next be bound for the Oculus Rift virtual reality headset (a Facebook company), according to Mark Zuckerberg, who introduced the idea at F8. Read more

Facebook subsidiary introduces SDKs aimed at Internet of Things—Parse, a subsidiary Facebook acquired in 2013, provides backend infrastructure for half a million mobile apps. The company’s CEO announced at F8 a line of Software Developer Kits (SDKs) that provide similar communications services for devices connected to the Internet (the so-called Internet of Things). The first SDK is for a Wi-Fi enabled microcontroller board; he demonstrated how the SDK enables the board to communicate to a Parse-enabled app, allowing the user who has installed the app to receive a notification from the board. Read more

Facebook’s LiveRail will compete with Google’s Ad Tech—Facebook acquired LiveRail—a video ad technology company—last year. Facebook has announced plans to extend the company’s capabilities to mobile video and display advertising in an effort to compete with Google’s Internet advertising juggernaut. Combined with its Atlas ad serving platform, Facebook claims it can help media companies manage the majority of their ad inventory. Read more

Facebook unveils personal history reminders—After a long testing period, Facebook has introduced On this Day, which alerts you to the anniversaries of significant events from your timeline (like birthdays and wedding annversaries). While you can’t opt out of the notifications, the algorithm is designed to filter out unpleasant memories. Read more

All the impending Facebook changes in one summary—Mashable produced a summary of everything you need to know about the changes coming to Facebook. Read more CNN’s Money magazine also has a summary of seven changes. Read more

Mobile and Wearables

Thanks to Foursquare, Twitter lets you add your location to a tweet—Using Twitter for Android, iOS, the Twitter site, or other mobile applications, you’ll now be able to add your location to tweets. With locations provided under an agreement with Foursquare, you’ll be able to add points of interest, landmarks, and business locations to your tweet. Using the Android and iOS apps, you can include your precise location, such as the coordinates of the street intersection where you tweeted. Twitter’s Help Center post on the new feature includes instructions on how to take advantage of the new feature. Read more

Instagram offers collage app—There are plenty of apps available that let you create collages from multiple photos. Instagram users have been using these apps for collages to share on the popular Facebook-owned image-sharing network. Now Instagram is introducing its own collage app, Layout, that lets users select up to nine photos from their phone and apply them to one of 10 collage templates. It’s only for iOS right now; an Android version is due in a few months. Read more

Luxury watch brands hedge bets with smartwatches—The imminent launch of the Apple Watch has led luxury watchmakers like Tag Heuer and Bulgari to announce partnerships with technology companies to ensure they have a piece of what is sure to be a growing market. Tag Heuer, for instance, has allied with Intel and Google. Read more


Responsive design poised to evolve—The future of responsive design—the web coding that allows any page to display correct regardless of the device—will undergo changes in order to accommodate wearables. Read more

Companies are drilling social media crises—I’m dismayed that the idea of a crisis communication drill is so alien that the subhead of an article in The Verge calls it “crazy.” In crisis planning, drills are the best way by far to get in the habit of demonstrating the right behaviors—not the kneejerk ones—when an actual crisis hits. Social media crises have become so common, though, that a company called Polpeo—a subsidiary of a social media management company—is simulating social media brand crises for clients. Read more

Marriott launches a magazine—Lending more credence to the idea that every brand must also be a media company, Marriott has introduced Marriott Traveler, a digital publication covering travel. Produced internally, the magazine covers city-focused content, including regional art, music, fashion, wellness, family, food, and drink. The content will be curated weekly by staff, digital influencers, and local experts. New Orleans was the first city featured. The magazine’s goal is to “provide value to our customers without directly selling something to them,” according to the hospitality company’s VP of content and creative marketing. “We want to engage with them on their terms.” Read more

Slack could spell the end of IRC—Slack, the app for business messaging, is sweeping through the business world. Even teams of people who don’t all work for the same organization, but are engaged in common projects, are embracing it. As people working on open source projects or discussing topics of shared interest move to Slack, it is replacing the long-standing chat solution: Internet Relay Chat (IRC). Among the groups switching from IRC to Slack: WordPress’ open-source software community. Read more

Meerkat’s advantage for brands—With Periscope now available, it remains to be seen how long Meerkat will be the focus of so much attention when it comes to live-streaming apps. For now, though, brands are attracted to it because “It’s all about relationship building via a more humanized brand,” according to one digital marketing account manager, who argues that “brands can see viewer comments and questions as they stream and respond live.” That’s an advantage over tools like Vine and Instagram based on the real-time nature of live-streaming. Read more Meanwhile, eConsultancy is offering eight ways brands can incorporate Meerkat streams into their marketing efforts, including product demos, events, product launches, tips and guides, and interviews. Read more


Add human rights to your CSR considerations—Eighty-three percent of executives believe human rights should be a major focus for businesses. According to a study from the Economist Intelligence Unit, 71% of business leaders believe their organizations’ responsibility to respect human rights goes further than following local laws. Forty-four percent of respondents said CEOs should take the lead on human rights as a business issue. Only 22% of respondents said their companies have a publicly available human rights policy. Read more

Your posts reveal information about your health—Research into what people post to social media is revealing a general understanding of the physical and well-being of defined communities; the research could allow experts to identify conditions like depression. The day could come, according to one researcher, when public health officials will be able to introduce interventions designed for a specific neighborhood. “It’s health research on a scale never seen before,” the article reports. Read more