Netflix will Now “Tweet Out Reminders”

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Netflix has been a game changing company for the entertainment industry.  The online streaming website has almost single-handedly changed the way we watch television.

Now Netflix has added a new social media feature to make sure you don’t forget your favorite shows, particularly the new Marco Polo series developed exclusively for Netflix.  Under the Netflix tweet touting the series, there is a “Tweet me Reminder” button.

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When the series debuts at 12:01AM PST on December 12, those who clicked on the reminder button will be reminded that all the episodes are available.  The tweet will also include a custom video message from the cast.

Speaking of Marco Polo…this will be the most expensive series on television ever with a budget of 90 million dollars. The only show with a higher budget than that is HBOs Game of Thrones.

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Netflix is hoping the new series will follow in the footsteps of successful series like House of Cards and Orange is the New Black.  Netflix is also banking that it will appeal to international markets as the company tries to add international subscribers.  In September already Netflix added 2 million subscribers.

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In more Netflix developments, a new Nielsen report suggests that live television viewing dropped 4 percent in just ONE QUARTER.  That is a huge drop in live television viewing.  Meanwhile, streaming through sites like Netflix and Hulu went up 60%.  This doesn’t even count the people who are watching from their video game consoles, and Roku players. 1412090188777_Image_galleryImage_No_Merchandising_Editoria

Netflix is gaining muscle in its ability to deliver original content online.  It has already announced plans to release a sequel to Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon 2, at the same time as the film is released in theaters.  The film will premiere on Aug 28 and will be the first of several others to premiere at the same time on Netflix as well as in IMAX theaters. adam-sandler-star-four-movies-netflix-lead

Netflix has also struck a deal with Adam Sandler to produce and star in four original films that will debut exclusively on Netflix.

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Facebook Frustrates Brands by Cracking Down on Unpopular Ads

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Facebook has seen a lot of news stories in recent days, but probably the one that would have the biggest impact for Facebook users is that the social network is now limiting the number of posts in your news feed that come from web ads.

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How will this effect brands that regularly employ Facebook, like Campbells Soup picture above?  Well, it is a frustrating matter, but brands will now have to work harder to create more interesting content to have their posts show up in Facebook news feeds.  According to the Facebook blog:

For years, we have given people the choice to hide an ad so they no longer see it in their News Feed. We’ve also looked at these hides and used them as a signal that other people on Facebook might not want to see that ad. Now, we are going a step further by taking into account the specific reason they didn’t want to see that ad, and use that as a signal to inform whether or not we show the ad to other people.

Brands my find themselves pulling away their ad spend from Facebook and onto new platforms as they feel they are getting less reach on their advertising campaigns.

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The way it works is like this: if an ad is getting consistent negative feedback from users, the ad will start being consistently hidden from news feeds.  This will clearly frustrate brands who will not see their ads reach the amount of people they would like to reach while motivating them to work hard to create ads that will not be hidden.  What will be more frustrating to advertisers is that Facebook will not tell them which of their ads are being hidden and how that is affect their reach.

As someone with intentions of going into the social media industry I find this an important development in my views on how to use Facebook for adverti

Facebook’s New Threat to the Journalism Industry

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Looks like Facebook is giving the waning news media a scare, by announcing recently ambitions to become a personal newspaper for the billion plus members currently using Facebook.

Already Facebook has become a huge source of news, with its trending stories at the top right of the home screen.  I already find myself going to Facebook to get a lot of my news.

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But early this month, the CEO of Facebook Mark Zuckerberg announced his plans to make Facebook “the perfect personalized newspaper for every person in the world”  Because Facebook understands your user habits, your interest, you demographics, your likes and dislikes, it can now deliver personalized news in your feed along with updates from your friends and family.

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This in effect would make Facebook a dominant player in the news media. I recently had a conversation with a few friends about this topic.  And a lot of them agreed that Facebook might as well be a newspaper since they get so much of their news already from trending stories on their Facebook page.

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As a former journalist, I do find this a big threat to the journalism industry which is already struggling to survive as newspapers lose readership to the huge number of available and free news sources online.  I find myself getting more and more of my news from credible blogs and less from paid news sources.

The future of this remains to be seen.sing.

The Most Instagramed Place in the World?

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Instagram just posted the most popular locations that were posted to instagram in 2014.  So what came in at first place? 

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Disneyworld.  The ten most instagrammed places are as follows:

  1. Disneyland — Anaheim, Calif.
  2. Dodger Stadium — Los Angeles, Calif.
  3. Times Square — New York, NY
  4. Siam Paragon (shopping mall) — Bangkok, Thailand
  5. Gorky Park (amusement park) — Moscow, Russia
  6. Musée du Louvre — Paris, France
  7. Red Square — Moscow, Russia
  8. Madison Square Garden — New York, NY
  9. Yankee Stadium — New York, NY
  10. The Dubai Mall — Dubai, United Arab Emirates

Disney World to me makes a lot of sense.  Lots of happy memories.    Disney is such an iconic brand with tons of memories families create when they come to Walt Disney World. What better way than to capture them and share them on Instagram.

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Times square makes a lot of sense to me.  New York was most recently named the capital of the financial world, according to the Global Financial Centres Index which is published every six months. Plus, visually, the Big Apple has so many photo opportunities. Broadway. Billboards. Energy.  This completely makes sense to me.

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I also understand the fact that the Louvre, Moscow’s Red Square and Madison Square Garden also made the list.  I even understand why the Dubai mall made it.  These are popular tourist destinations, with Dubai especially taking off as tourist destination in recent years.

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The one that had me scratching my head was Dodger’s Stadium in Los Angeles?? The Dodger ONLY play 81 home games a year.  While other destinations on the list are open year round.

While I don’t necessarily get it, I do understand how photos at baseball games may make social media photo ops.  Looking at my most recent media photo postings, I saw a photo of a Mets game I went to, a close shot of the field.

I am not the biggest user of instagram but I certainly follow it in the news media. Most recently a new application called Instatake has been catching buzz. The app simply allowed you to download anyone’s photos onto your computer by simply entering their users name.

This caused quite a stire in the news media, and managed to ruffle Instagram’s feathers…Subsequently InstaTake was forced to be taken down, posting this message up in its place:

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The other major newsworthy event on the Instagram front, is that the photo sharing application finally debuted video advertisments after much testing and direct work with brands.  On instagram, brands are given 15 seconds to get your attention.

Some of the brands that have already jumped in on the action include Disney, which used the 15 second platform to promote the new film “Big Hero Six”.   Lancome used the 15 second ads to promote new makeup products.  And Activision used it to promote its new Call of Duty video game.

Unfortunately this is something expected, as Instagram needs to make money, but a lot of people will be mourning the loss of Instagram without the ads.

Check out the ads here.

The Power and Popularity of Pinterest

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While it may not be generating as many headlines as Facebook, Twitter or Snapchat, after seeing so many innovative campaigns on Pinterest, i thought it would be interesting to look at the enormous potential of Pinterest right now and show how some brands are using Pinterest to promote their businesses.

It’s clear from the statistics that more and more brands are turning to Pinterest and realizing its potential to attract users through its visual search and virtual pinboard.

Pinterest was launched only four years ago in 2010, and since then it has attracted 57.9 million monthly users, mostly women 16-34 years old.   Three quarters of its activity takes place on the mobile phone and the content includes images, of personal likes, similar to a digital scrapbook.

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Among the brands starting to use Pinterest and all of its unique features include Uniqlo, the fast fashion clothing store which has created a Pinterest board with long vertical ads that you scroll down seemlessly.

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Verizon Wireless has recently been using Pinterest to promote its free NFL smartphone Wallpapers in conjunction with their NFL partnership.  They are letting users choose their favorite wallpapers from their favorite NFL teams to then download an NFL smartphone wallpaper directly to their phones.

2014-11-02_21-24-23Jetsetter is a vacation flashsite that asked users to create their ultimate destination pinboard.   And the winner of the contest would also win a free vacation to one of four possible destinations.  That campaign increased its pinboard follower base from 2,000 people to 5,300 people in just a couple of weeks.  Over the course of the campaign 1100 people pinned over 50,000 images trying to earn the get the pinboard with the most followers.

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Nordstrom most recently incorporated most pinned items on their Pinterest board onto their store displays as part of their Pinspiration campaign.

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I wanted to conclude this post with my own experiences using Pinterest. Even though I have a Facebook, Twitter, Vine, Tumblr, LinkedIn, Snapchat, Instagram, Google+ accounts along with many different chat apps like Whatsapp and Line, I actually DO NOT have a Pinterest account.  But I recently helped my mom curate a Pinterest board that “slightly” exploded in popularity.

Because my mom loves to cook and I love technology, when I was home visiting her for the holidays she asked me to help her set up a Pinterest board with all different recipes that she had been collecting in a book over the years.  It took a couple minutes to help her set up an account and before long we had pinned dozens of recipes with her reflections on her virtual Pinterest pinboard.   Most of the time was spent helping her collect her thoughts on each recipe captured by a caption below the list of ingredients.

The most popular post on the Pinterest board came from an idea my mother had to create homemade Peppermint Bark as Christmas gifts.  She had seen these “beautiful peppermint bark chocolates” being sold at William Sonoma and thought they would be easy to make herself.  The recipe was rather simple.  She just melted white chocolate that she bought at the grocery store in a saucepan.  Then she poured the melted white chocolate into a cookie sheet lined with aluminum foil.  She bought a bunch of candy canes, unwrapped them and put them inside a plastic bag.  She then took a rolling pin and crushed the candy canes into little pieces.  She then sprinkled the pieces of candy cane over the melted white chocolate and let cool.  When the chocolate cooled, she broke the ‘peppermint bark’ into rough shapen chunks and wrapped them in decorative boxes.

Within minutes dozens of people were pinning her recipe about peppermint bark onto their own pinterest boards.  And in a short while the recipe was repinned onto 318 other Pinterest boards and got 53 likes.  You can visit her board here!

Is Facebook Really in Trouble with Trendy New Social Network Ello?

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Recently, my Facebook feed exploded with comments something along the lines of “Anyone have an Ello invite??!!”

Ello?? What?? Why don’t I know about this?? A simple search on the web for the word Ello brought about hundreds of articles from Forbes to USA Today talking about the latest trendy social network, and everything you needed to know about it. ELLO!

According to the NY Times, Ello has grown from 60 users to 1 million users in three months.  What’s more staggering is that there are currently 3 million – yes 3 million – people on the waiting list to get an Ello invite!

Ello was profiled in Fortune, National Public Radio and TechCrunch among many, many places. News and blogs were reporting that Ello was getting 40,000 new users to sign up every HOUR of every day.  Even Jimmy Fallon weighed in on the pros and cons of joining Ello.

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I admit I was CURIOUS. The idea of an anti-Facebook social network was pretty exhilerating.  The premise of Ello was the sites like Facebook collected all of your data, your purchasing habits, your ethnicity, your age — everything and then sold it to advertisers so that they could put sponsored ads in front of you.  That is the Facebook business model. The premise of Ello is the exact opposite of Facebook – a social network with no ads, no data mining. Thus earning the nickname the “anti-facebook”.

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Aside from the lack of ads and data mining, Ello is basically like Facebook — you can post status updates, photos of your friends.  You can comment on friends posts.  There’s also a section called “Noise” that lets you showcase online art.

So naturally, after reading all about Ello, all over the web, I decided to sign up.  And this is the message I received.

Ello has gone viral and we are temporarily freezing invitations for new users. This allows us to make sure that Ello remains stable as the network continues to grow. Check back here for updates — we promise to give you more invites as soon as we can!

I found this pretty surprising because, you would think, that any company that is trying to start up a social network would be trying its hardest to sign up new users.  And how many companies out there want to be the next Facebook?? And how many companies would love to have the amount of traffic headed to their site and a tidal wave of publicity in the news headlines referring to it as the potential NEXT Facebook?

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But apparently, Ello wants to do it right. They want to have the critical internet infrastructure in place so that when people sign on, they will not have trouble loading pages and experiencing a lot of glitches on the website.  They want people to have a seemless experience.

So while I can’t tell you what it’s like to be an Ello user, since I’m still waiting for an invite, I have been reading about the waves of news articles about Ello in the past month.  That includes the fact that it has already raised 5.5 million dollars from an investment firm.

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The CEO of Ello Paul Budnitz has already hit the media circuit, commenting on how he feels about Facebook, telling Re/Code in a Q&A “We are not here to compete with Facebook. We don’t actually consider Facebook a social network. We think of it as an advertising platform. We’re doing our own thing. When we started creating Ello we actually tried to erase anything we knew and start from scratch and just tried to build what we wanted.”

All I can say is that people have constantly been talking about what would happen to Facebook if someday everyone decided to flee Facebook and go to another social network?  Just like what happened to MySpace a few years back.  Facebook would collapse just like Enron — only without the scandal part.

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Remember MySpace?  It happened to them. Perhaps that is little of what is driving the hoopla around Ello — that there could be a new Facebook Killer.  But speaking as a marketer, Facebook allows companies to target people in the digital space.  At the same time Advertisers are getting fed up with Facebook because over the past couple months they have seen a dramatic dip in the amount of users they reach.  But obviously if Facebook falls apart at the hands of new social networks like Ello. Then where are advertisers to go?

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I honestly don’t think Facebook is going to fall apart. I feel it is too big of a company with too much money that will put too many resources behind not allowing themselves to fall apart.  As sad as it sounds, I think they will do everything they can to make sure Ello does not succeed.  In fact, they’ve already launched a new ad free social network called Rooms that is a throwback to chatrooms of yesteryear that is gaining traction.  Facebook is also acquiring companies like Instagram and Whatsapp for billions of dollars so that if people start to flee Facebook in large numbers, they will continue to thrive.

I don’t believe advertisers will stop using Facebook to advertise.  As long as it is a way to reach people across the digital space, I feel they will continue to use Facebook.  But, instead of solely relying on Facebook for social media advertising, I do think we will see more companies creating their own advertising websites, or microsites, to push their own products.

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EA Games successfully did this recently by pushing their advertisements from Madden 15 to their own microsite called The Giferator, where you can create your own GIFs of different football players on different teams.

Anyway, getting back to Ello.  I don’t know if I’ve peaked your curiosity on Ello, but I’ll leave you with Jimmy Fallon weighing in on the pros and cons of Ello

PS – A month has past since I’ve signed up and I have only gotten a few e-mails from Ello telling me to hold tight, that a new round of email invites would be coming soon. You can give it a whirl at this link .  Good Luck!

Update – I emailed my blog post to the Ello CEO and asked for an invite. And the next day I had an Ello invite in my inbox!! I will keep you posted on my experiences using Ello.