We Are Communication Architects
Building brand awareness through content creation and community engagement.
Chris ThilkJune 6th, 2013
Voce NationApril 30th, 2013
Voce’s having an open house. Come by our San Francisco office and meet the most energetic, creative firm in Silicon Valley and learn what Voce is all about. No need to RSVP. Just stop by and find out what we’re doing to fire up public relations and social media.
- 550 Third Street
- San Francisco, CA 94107
Chris ThilkApril 5th, 2013
In the last couple weeks Amazon rolled out a “Send to Kindle” button that would let readers of websites, including WordPress blogs (via a plugin), send a post or article to their Kindle for reading at some point in the future.
Similarly, Pocket has introduced a “Save to Pocket” that can be added to blogs and sites in the same manner as a “Tweet” or “Share” button that lets people save a story to Pocket so they can dive in and read down the road.
Both of these tools operate under the assumption that while the reader may be busy now they will have the time to read/watch/view it in the near future. What strikes me about this is that this is exactly what RSS is good at; time-shifted reading with the option to save something for later when you have more time to digest it. But both of these tools are acknowledgements that the flow of information is different now and are meant to adapt to this new reality. Instead of subscribing to a bunch of RSS feeds people may be reading more on Twitter. So after clicking a link someone has shared there can bring them to a page that looks interesting and, via one of these buttons (or browser bookmarklets for Pocket and other tools), save it for when they’re on the train or elsewhere with time to read it more fully.
Flipboard, which recently rolled out new functionality allowing people to create their own magazines filled with constantly updated curated content you think is interesting, also plays in this space, bringing together stories you haven’t had a chance to read yet. That one obviously takes the next step and feeds your vanity by allowing others to subscribe to and follow your thought leadership in addition to acting as a repository for stuff you just want to read yourself.
If I were to guess I’d say the “read it later” industry is poised for a bit of innovation as companies compete to be people’s preferred option for time-shifted reading. As media consumption patterns continue to shift and change there will be companies that will want to be the ones that most easily facilitate that new reading workflow.
Voce NationFebruary 25th, 2013
- Marketers know the value of social data but interpretation remains a challenge: This is a vital role that agencies play, interpreting the data that comes out of the publishing programs and turning that into intelligence to base business decisions off of, not only in how to improve the program itself but what audience sentiment and insights can be drawn out of it.
- Social media disaster for Burger King: Twitter feed says chain sold to McDonald’s: Jeep’s Twitter account was similarly hacked shortly thereafter, likely by the same group or person, which should be a reminder to not only have secure logins but to have a strategy for how to deal with the aftermath of an incident like this.
- Elon Musk Lays Out His Evidence That New York Times Tesla Model S Test Drive Was “Fake”: Whichever side was right – and there were plenty of posts and op-eds that supported both the original story and Musk’s rebuttal – the idea behind what Musk did is an important role a corporate publishing program plays, setting the record straight and correcting misinformation that may be floating around.
- Why newspaper sports journalists don’t like Deadspin:Deadspin and other publications like it don’t play by traditional journalism rules and they’re attracting readers in droves. That’s not to say they don’t still practice good journalism, but the fact that they ignore areas where older publications have traditionally drawn boundaries frees them up to do a lot more interesting stuff that’s appealing to new readers.
- Vimeo acquires GIF-making app Echograph to challenge Vine & Cinemagram: The mighty GIF continues to be a big player in the media world these days and a lot of companies are putting some sizable muscle into facilitating their creation and distribution.
Chris ThilkFebruary 22nd, 2013
A couple weeks ago Quora, the question-and-answer platform that has made a number of shifts to increase its relevancy to a broad audience, launched a blog platform. The company pitched the blogs to people who don’t have an established online identity and want to have their writing easily surfaced to potential readers. It specifically called out how what people write will be quickly discovered so they can build an audience and even made an appeal to those who do already have a primary online home, positioning their platform as a further distribution point.
But here’s my question: What’s the long term value of the audience that’s eventually built?
Let’s table that for a moment and look at how Quora appears to fit into a trend that’s emerging in the online space that I’m calling “middle blogging.” Other players in this area include Medium, Svbtle and LinkedIn and even includes Tumblr and Branch to some extent.
Quora, along with those other players, is looking to satisfy a craving for people to share longer-form thoughts with their networks but in a way that, to the outside eye, is fairly transient. By that I mean the people who are gravitating toward these platforms don’t seem to be interested in putting any sort of customization effort into their online presence and don’t really seem to have a desire to plant a flag and say “This is me, bask in it.”
So these platforms, then, make the value proposition based on on-domain engagement, that you can build up a network there and get meaningful feedback and interactions with other members of that community. The question then remains of how you go about building up that network. If you start to work on one platform, find it’s not your cup of tea then it’s on to the next to see what that offers. Unfortunately that often means starting from scratch and leaving behind a dead, withering profile since export functionality isn’t something that’s offered by most of these tools.
Hunter Walk has called them a new form of content farm, though he points out that instead this latest iteration of that concept seems to be focused more on quality than it is on making a quick buck, a mantle that in my opinion has been taken up by a handful of other sites that I won’t go into here. Mathew Ingram at PaidContent comes to much the same conclusion on that point.
I’m still left wondering what is behind this shift toward tools that are unowned and which offer little in the way of profile management. Is it that, with so many new platforms emerging all the time, it’s more important for them to follow their network from place to place instead of settling down and owning their online presence? Is it that they’re not thinking long-term about having a central hub as their primary online outpost?
Whatever the answer might be, this is a trend that only seems to be increasing and so is absolutely worth watching over time. But what also needs to be kept in mind is how, as some studies have shown, people eventually graduate from some of these platforms to something more fully-featured like WordPress. It often seems to be the case that these social-focuesed platforms act as a proving ground, allowing people to test out what they like, what they don’t and figure out what they want to do. Then, when they’re ready, they often move up to a site that gives them more control over their publishing and allows them to build more value.
Chris ThilkFebruary 15th, 2013
We all know about Oreo and their “massive win” a couple weeks ago when they turned around a fun (if largely inconsequential) image during the Super Bowl. The company got a lot of headlines in media industry publications for the image they released during the game’s blackout and it was shared quite a bit by normal people on Twitter and Facebook. So, you know, good for them. They captured a moment and had a laugh and both of those are good things.
But the speed with which they were able to produce that doesn’t mean that anything that takes longer than 20 minutes to produce is automatically a failure.
Sadly that seems to be the prevailing opinion regarding Poland Spring’s “blown opportunity” in the wake of its appearance in the Republican response to this past Sunday’s State of the Union speech. The company didn’t produce a fun little image taking advantage of the unplanned appearance until Wednesday, which many considered too late. Here are five reasons why that’s simply not the case:
- The “too late” argument hinges on every company having a social media command center staffed 24 hours a day, complete with art director and traditional copywriter, which is massively unrealistic.
- Yes, it’s fair to point out that Poland Spring’s two Twitter accounts haven’t been active for over two years. But that may be part of an overall strategy decision we’re not privy to the logic behind, not an automatic sign of a company that doesn’t get social.
- There’s no way the company could have seen this coming, meaning that unlike Oreo there was no rapid response team already gathered together.
- The same “social media experts” who are calling this a big fat fail would have advised no official response just a few years ago, instead saying that letting the audience have their fun and not getting in the way was the better course of action. Beware of anyone who gives you guidance based solely on putting their finger to the wind.
- This wasn’t a crisis and therefore was not an event that needed to be managed. Having fun is great if it fits with the culture of the company and the goals of their social media program. If not there’s no shame in not jumping on everything that comes up, regardless of what might make the news on any given day.
There are a lot of good reasons to be involved in real-time conversations, especially around fun little mini-memes like this. But not doing so isn’t an automatic failure and I’m hard pressed to believe that lack of official participation is impacting sales one way or the other since the people most likely to be counting the clock are media and marketing industry pundits, not ordinary consumers. Let’s not hold anyone to unrealistic expectations that we wouldn’t want ourselves to have applied to us.