Digital media has been in a state of flux for a few years. To say that, “digital is changing” would be stating the obvious, but the only constant in digital media over the last decade or so has been “changes” within digital media itself. However, despite the schizophrenic nature of the ever so dynamic digital media market, experts continue to analyze and strive to predict what will be the “next big thing”. In keeping with this trend, I hope to explore one key digital media trend through this blog post. Having said that, my focus as usual is to ensure that you don’t fall asleep reading this and actually leave this page with some insight into the curious world of digital media.

 

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Source: Stocksnap.io

 

Globalization as a term has been rather well done on the internet if we were to look at it as a piece of meat. Journalists and bloggers around the world have over cooked the term to such an extent that no possible seasoning can make it appealing to your mental taste buds (If such a thing exists). But lets take a step back and look at globalization in the context of digital media. The average teenager in India is now consuming the same media as his/her counterparts in the United States, Europe or anywhere else in the world. What this indicates to me is an exodus towards “standardized content”. Now hold that thought while I travel further into the digital media galaxy.

 

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Source: Stocksnap.io

 

Key trend

The Global Internet Phenomena Report released on Monday, December 7, 2015 found that streaming audio and video services accounted for 70 percent of all Internet traffic in North America. That, coupled with the concept of standardized content means streaming audio and video content will not only account for higher internet traffic in the future in North America, but that this trend will be replicated around the world.

 

The wonder we call 4G

4G internet is now a reality all over the world, generating greater excitement in emerging/developing markets. In fact, lightening fast internet is now more of a reality than clean drinking water in parts of Asia, specifically India. This has paved the way for more and more content to go the audio and video way. Simply put, either people are just fascinated with the idea, or interactive storytelling has finally found its market. The credit for this can be attributed to and shared between the advent of affordable ‘smart’ mobile devices as well as easy to use tools for interactive content creation.

Cynics would argue that streaming audio and video content is a current trend, so what does this have to do with the future? Here is where the two terms globalization and standardized content come into play. While audio and video streaming is here to stay in the North American market, it is merely finding its place elsewhere in the world. Faster and more reliable internet, courtesy Facebook’s internet.org initiative and other similar initiatives is still a project in process in developing markets. Here is where I think there is merit in considering video and audio streaming as a digital media trend, one that is merely finding its place today but will dominate the digital world in the future!

 

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Source: Stocksnap.io

 

So what does that mean for your organization’s digital strategy?

More audio and video; less words.

 

What can you do to stay relevant today and prepare for this revolution?

  • Incorporate video as a standard content creation practice.
  • Use simple/free tools available for creating video and audio content if you find yourself unable to budget for expensive software.
  • While you’re at it, try creating this content on mobile; yes it can be done and soon all the cool kids will be doing it!

AND….. because I am so awesome, I’ve made an infographic, just for you!

 

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Holy Grail of Communication

So it is no secret, social media has officially become the holy grail of communication for a number of industries and sectors. For Government agencies, social media is not only incredibly beneficial but also the norm and mandatory. The ‘benefit’ aspect of a social media presence in my opinion is one that needs to be earned. Unless you’re a for profit company, this benefit on social media translates into two things, trust and/or engagement. Trust, as we know rests on transparency.

Let us think about that for a minute.

A day in the life of a govt. agency’s social media team

You’re a government agency and possibly having a hard time posting and managing content on social media as it is. Let’s face it, not everyday in a government agency’s office would be exciting. I can say from the experience of having worked at two news channels and specifically handled their social media feeds; things got immensely boring even at those channels. A government agency in comparison would not only have less content to share but also enjoy less engagement on the shared content. Add to that the expectation of maintaining a transparent and clean social media aura. It can be a tough position to be in for a government agency and I can imagine a scenario where people could either begin questioning content or worse, unfollow the account altogether if there is a perceived lack of transparency.

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Image source: StockSnap.io

To avoid such a situation to begin with, here are my recommendations for government agencies to maintain transparency on the social web:

  1. Curate content – The way I see it, a lot of the times it’s easy to fall into the lazy routine of auto sharing content or falling into a pattern of sharing similar content. One possible way around this is to continue curating content even when there are not so exciting issues to talk about. Curating content allows followers to get into the agency’s mind. In turn, the agency absolves itself of arbitrary accusations of not having a sense of public responsibility by giving their audience a sense of what the agency is consuming.
  2. Consistency – I see this happen all the time, government agencies don’t use their accounts for a while, then make a random post, which is usually a claim and then never to be seen again. Not only must an agency continue to be active on social media ALL THE TIME, but in fact follow projects through and through. Timely updates about ongoing and future projects included.
  3. Ethical listening – Social media is social, as simple as that. If you’re not listening to your audience or aren’t trying to get access to groups and discussions on social media about your agency then you haven’t scratched the surface of knowing how many people could be listening to you. Facebook now offers a “replies within” widget for corporate accounts/Pages which is proof of how important listening is, as a Govt. agency the last thing you want is for the electorate to think their local Govt. agency isn’t listening to them.

Data mining until a few years ago was merely a part of the many aspects of the web. Today however, data mining is fact racing to become a key revenue component for web/social media/mobile application services. The concept is simple, consumers use everyday tools be it work or personal use related which are usually offered for free. The incentive for the companies who offer these tools is observing consumer behavior and then further drawing on that information either internally or externally. Simple right? Sadly, no. There are layers within layers to ‘mining’, buying or selling data. Of these layers, privacy is an important and consistently growing concern. As an organization you want to make sure that if you are indulging in data mining, you are doing so ethically and without violating any privacy concerns.

Here are four rules I would recommend for organizations that want to mine data while maintaining a robust privacy protection policy:

  1. Scrutiny and Security – Access to raw data as well as findings must be controlled. Control here refers to building technological and human ‘firewalls’ by keeping access to a minimal. If data mining is being done in a project specific manner then perhaps access should not go beyond that particular project. In case this data can be correlated to another theme or customer’s requirement then sharing ought to done at a raw data level so that consumer information is protected.
  2. Opacity in mining – There is no fixed template to mining data and it is rather fascinating to realize that the same data can be used in a variety of ways to achieve different outcomes. However, what is key is that the data is indirect. Indirect data tells you how a certain demographic is behaving and not what a particular person’s habits are. Behaviour and habits are key data mining components and they must never reveal specific details that may reveal identities of those that the data is based on.
  3. Educate – Perhaps the most important rule out of them all. TELL PEOPLE before you use their information. While this is standard policy for larger social media platforms and other web based services, smaller organizations need to take note. Just because individuals have decided to interact with you does not mean you have the right to use, sell and benefit/profit from using data about them. Any such use must be conveyed to consumers via email, a public social media post or a post on your organization’s website. Educate your consumers!
  4. Ethical sourcing – Often overlooked, this rule is one that relates to organizations across the board. The three rules above relate to what an organization should be doing while mining data, but the likelihood of an organization sourcing data is far higher than it actually doing the work. This holds true as data mining is a full fledged industry as I mentioned earlier and ‘buying’ or ‘sourcing’ data is a far easier exercise to undertake than embarking on a data mining mission. Should you as an organization find yourself in a position where you are sourcing data, make sure the source is following the same rules you have advised to adhere to.

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No two organizations are the same, so choose wisely. Be transparent, be respectful, take accountability and should you fail in doing so, remember, trust is earned and should it be lost, reinventing the wheel will seem like a much easier task to undertake!

 

Tim Hortons v/s Starbucks Canada v/s Second Cup

 Facebook

Tim Hortons 2,055,477/2,714,950

Starbucks Canada 838,327/36,066,279

Second Cup 78,729/96,750

A quick look at the Facebook pages for the three brands indicates a huge difference between the following for Tim Hortons, Starbucks and Second Cup. However, the total followers are not a fair indicator of the social media presence for the three brands as they vastly different when it comes to global presence. Starbucks beats Tim hortons and second cup hands down in terms of number of stores the world over, thus their global social media presence is leaps and bounds ahead of their competitors. Locally, within Canada however the story is completely different. Tim hortons leads the pack in Canada with over twice the amount of followers in comparison to Starbucks, second cup fails to come close to either of them, in part because of brand positioning and in part because of a social media strategy that seems to believe in the policy of inactivity.

Engagement – Posts by Tim hortons and Starbucks that seem to be getting the most amount of engagement are ones that either showcase products and/or merchandise or are focused on current, real time events that are taking place around us. The only recommendation for Facebook vis-à-vis Starbucks for Tim Hortons would be to leverage their local Canadian branding a little more. Perhaps a few more posts talking about the process of bringing the coffee experience to the average Canadian every day, who is their most dominant customer.

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Twitter

Tim Hortons 429,448

Starbucks 263,046

Second Cup 9159

While at first it seems Tim Hortons has managed to neutralize the competition on twitter, a closer look reveals that while their total followers are far higher than that of Starbucks, Starbucks is head to head with Tim Hortons when it comes to engagements. In fact, their tweet on the 1st of November with close to 2000 retweets was far more successful than anything Tim Hortons has done on twitter in a while. This tweet was of course about Starbucks’ now legendary “red cup”, their annual fall event.

My recommendation for Tim Hortons for twitter would be to try and launch their own niche event to compete with Starbucks. They don’t need it, but why let the competition have all the fun?

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Instagram

Tim Hortons 124,981

Starbucks 117,856

Second Cup 4046

Instagram is perhaps the only platform where it is too close to call as to who is leading the other. From the average followers to post engagement, there really isn’t one thing that could be pointed out that needs improvement. In fact, the colour of the cups aside, the feeds on the platforms look identical.

As a recommendation, I would think this “similarity” could in the future be a deterrent in brand identity. Similar to my recommendation for Facebook, perhaps Tim Hortons could leverage their “Canadian identity” a little more; this would give them a considerable edge. However, to be fair, they are already doing this to a large extent.

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YouTube

Tim Hortons 11,423 (Views – 18, 910, 178)

Starbucks 85,269 (Views – 30, 467, 921)

Second Cup N/A

Despite the global brand advantage for Starbucks, the competition on YouTube seems pretty even, in some cases leaning in favour of Tim Hortons. The strategy to use short videos sampling the brand experience seems to be a shared one, where in Starbucks and Tim hortons seem to be using it.

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Social media use differs a whole lot more than we’d think as we take a look at different sectors and how they are utilizing their social media presence. A lot of it boils down to the nature of business, such as the level of confidentiality exercised and implications of sharing content. But without dwelling too much into the obscure, let’s for a moment look at Government agencies, non-profit organizations and private sector companies. The way these different sectors utilize social media is as different as they sound!

Govt. Agencies

Government agencies and their role on social media depends largely on the kind of leadership that commands their social media presence and in turn information sharing. Assuming all is well with the powers that be, govt. agencies on social media are largely involved in sharing day-to-day information with the citizens at large. However, this information sharing fluctuates depending on factors such as local happenings and most importantly elections. Barring a few independent agencies, most agencies can be found either responding to questions put up by the public or on occasion responding to a crisis.

Non-profits

Non-profit organizations with the exception of the independently funded unicorns are on social media for one purpose, to drive donations. Non-profit social media strategy revolves around that one truth and the tactics are dictated by the same. Of course, they don’t go out there and post “donate” everyday on any of the platforms. The strategy is usually to first attract volunteers and donors, then find advocates and finally, once the groundwork has been laid, raise awareness which in turn keeps existing donors and attracts new ones. Storytelling is a large part of most social media content designed by successful non-profits.

Pvt. Sector Companies

Private sector companies in my opinion are the “go to” social media players to get lessons in social media strategy from. The core premise of their social media existence is “profit”, but it’s amazing to see how good so many companies are at achieving that without mentioning anything about it. Thus creating some confusion with regards to understanding how to sell without actually selling. From storytelling to abstract imagery, it is private companies that are setting the trend for content on social media in my opinion. Having said that, simply put, private companies use social media to basically provide swift customer service, promote products and when all hell breaks lose, manage a crisis.

I have tried to represent my thoughts in a simple infographic that aims to describe the differences between these social media strategies by dividing content into routine, periodic and rare occurrences. 

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To try and explain what a meme is, seems not only boring but unnecessary to me. Why? Simply because it seems like common knowledge that using or creating a meme is perhaps the easiest way to communicate on the internet. But what does interest me is is the greater idea behind why memes are so effective at doing what they do.

The easiest way to explain the phenomenon is to explore how our visual memory responds to the average meme on the internet. It is usually a picture we have seen before but with unusual words splattered across it. So we’re instantly hooked. Why is this picture being shared with these words? Oh wait, isn’t that him? Questions such as those find their way into our thought process and now that we’re thinking about it, we’re buying it. Now, if the image and the words are familiar and are being used as a mashup, the effect in my opinion is doubled! Now we’re correlating two concepts and thinking about both simultaneously.

It is something of the “doubled” sort that seems to be working for the meme featured below. Mastercard’s tagline is perhaps one of the most popular and iconic branding initiatives across the world. “FOR EVERYONE ELSE THERE’S MASTERCARD.” Combine that with the famous phrase repeated episode after episode to describe “House Lannister” of Game of Thrones. “A LANNISTER ALWAYS PAYS HIS DEBTS.” And we have a winner!

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And now, for my own attempt at creating a meme, I present my own tribute to what I think was one of the most “rallied for” campaigns on social media this year. The tragic event where in a dentist based in the United States of America killed a lion named Cecil during an “underground” hunting trip. At first the meme seems humorous but the thought behind it is that dentists must confine themselves to doing what they do best…. root canals.

Coming from a mean lion, such as the one featured in the meme, the message is amplified and can be heard LOUD AND CLEAR.

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Web/Desktop based Image Editors 

Edited using LunaPic

Edited Using FotoFlexer

Edited Using Picmonkey

Mobile based Image Editor

Edited using InShot for IOS on iPhone 6s

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Example of new class

This should be red.

This post isn’t particularly pleasing because to be very honest I don’t exactly know what I am doing. A lot of this got down to guesswork and trying to understand a computer “coding” language I had no exposure to till about a week or two ago. So here goes nothing….

I had a few problems while trying to implement these changes as one of the themes would not respond to changes I was making due to an apparent “blocker” within the theme.

After installing my three themes I tried to make three css selector changes.

These were:

      1. Font size
      2. Font family
      3. Font colour.

 

Theme 1 – Font change

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Theme 1 – Font colour changed

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Theme 1 – Font family changed

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H1, H2, H3 tags

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Theme 2 – Colour change

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Theme 1 – H1, H2, H3 Tags

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Theme 3

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Twitter looks menacingly simplistic, using it is extremely easy and the results for those who’ve used it right have been amazing! Yet, there is this sense of hesitation among individuals and businesses alike in acknowledging twitter’s value in the social media sphere. Arguments range from the profound, “it just doesn’t allow you to share enough content” to the more frustrating, “it just isn’t facebook.”

Twitter is one of those boutique social media platforms that has managed to retain its mystique and exclusivity over the years despite experiencing a surge in the number of users. This presentation is a simple look at the demographics that make twitter unavoidable for business or personal use.

 

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