How Story Platforms Help Global Brands Go Local

While the current turmoil in Cairo may obscure the post-revolutionary optimism that pervaded the city last winter, that mood was powerful at the time. Despite the chaos in the virtual absence of government, the metropolitan region of some 14 million was taken over in January by an Arabic pop music video urging people to "go crazy" by committing acts of kindness to spread happiness. The film, produced by Coca Cola, features street scenes of people being kind and happy in well-known Cairo locations. Locals say it perfectly reflected the hopefulness and optimism of Egypt's people as they embarked on the difficult path of building a new democracy.


Social Media Strategy Step 1: Find Your Audience

I’m a child of the 80s and a teenager of the 90s. Though my parents didn't spoil me with riches, they did hop on the Internet bandwagon early. It’s a pretty impressive and serendipitous thing, if you knew my parents. I love them dearly, but let’s just say they’re not very tech savvy. Every visit home is a new tech problem I have to fix, which is usually a result of my mom forgetting her password or my dad deleting an icon.

So their buying a viable home computer in the early 90s was a feat; and that they subscribed to Prodigy (before AOL even existed) is hard to believe, but it happened. And so my addiction to the computer and all things Internet was born, and to this day I’m still knee-deep in it, only now I’m getting paid for it instead of running up the phone bill using a dial-up modem. 

All this paved the way for the way I use social media today, as a 30-something. But I’m part of just one demographic, and the Internet landscape has drastically changed. The way individuals use social media depends on a number of factors—age, gender, income and even race—and if you’re an advertiser, it’s important to dig deep into the sometimes-subtle differences in the ways they interact with it. What you think you know about the use of social-networking sites and mobile may be far from the truth, and that mistake can cost your brand. 


3 Television Shows that “Get” Social

Television has been “social” for years now, but the rapid embrace of real-time marketing in 2013 (and we’re only two months into it) has shifted social TV into a higher gear. 

But the topic of brands reacting to television programming via social channels has been discussed ad nauseam. I’m not sure anyone can write an article lately about social media without mentioning Oreo, and this year’s Oscars apparently invited every brand to the social media party, whether it was relevant or not.

What is largely forgotten in all this is the shows themselves. Social media is fertile ground for television programs to engage audiences not only before, during and after an episode airs, but also during the off-season, making social a year-round commitment. Now that countless brands utilize real-time second-screen tactics, it’s time to investigate which shows and channels are innovating in the social space. 


5 Lessons of Effective Editing for Viral Success

An interesting insight into what makes social content effective has emerged, or at least made itself more visible, in the past year or so. Content is king, but editing may be the queen who’s actually running the castle.

Our traditionally analog means of consuming media—television, newspaper, radio, outdoor—are quickly being replaced by digital means. We supplement TV watching with our iPads, get our news in near real time from Twitter, and share life’s moments in an instant on Facebook. Other technologies have allowed fast and easy creation and curating of content, like Pinterest, Vine, Storify, and even something as simple as an Instagram hashtag.


YouTube’s Original Channels: One Giant Leap for Brandkind

Back in South East England, rolling through the mists of time (well, the late ’70s...), to when my main mode of transport was a space hopper and Pong was the ultimate in console gaming, I was taken to the cinema by my parents every week. Back then, local adverts were played between the B and A movies as part of the show: ‘Wedding dresses...’, ‘The sharpest suits...’, ‘The best chicken tikka in town... only 50 yards from this theatre’, they would announce with pride. Here’s a relatively high-production value advert for Cobb Gate Fish Bar, in case you are unfamiliar with the format.


Why Streaming Services Could Upend Cable TV’s Content Model

Cancellation is almost always a death sentence for a television show. Some are revived decades later, like the 80’s soap opera Dallas, which was reborn with a handful of original cast members this past June, but most live in our hearts, minds, and in DVD box sets.

Arrested Development, which was cancelled in 2006, has cheated death. In a brilliant and telling move, Netflix, an on-demand and streaming media provider, has breathed new life in the show by signing it on for a new season to air exclusively on the company’s service. With a subscription, Arrested Development fans will be able to watch the entire new fourth season (ten episodes), which will be released all at once in 2013. Netflix also offers the first three seasons for those who can’t get enough of the Bluth family—a smart move to hook old fans again, by revisiting their favorite episodes.

This unprecedented move gives us a glimpse into what the future of television programming might hold. Are we at a place where consumers can escape the iron fist of cable and satellite TV providers and watch what they want, when they want, for a fraction of the cost? We’ve already peeked into the future of automobile advertising. What’s in store for our entertainment needs? Will on-demand and streaming services beat out the old guard of cable and satellite?


Is Foursquare Becoming the Perfect Local Ad Platform?

Local merchants that’ve ignored location-based check-in platform foursquare have just been handed a serious reason to get on board: Local Updates, the first-ever way for merchants large and small (all one million of them, currently) to communicate directly with their customers on the platform, has arrived. As of today, they’ve even begun testing the waters with Promoted Updates, a way for a business to attract new customers through paid placement (the difference: spots, matched relative to interests and activity, are only seen when you’re actively searching on the Explore tab). This, coming a month into foursquare’s strategic shift in approach—including a rebuilt mobile app (try it out if you’ve written FS off)—means that the newfound focus for the platform as a social-exploration tool is as much about enabling richer user-to-user interactions as about enabling richer business-to-customer and customer-to-business interactions.


Dish Network’s Hopper Fights the Future of Traditional Advertising

The commercials for Dish Network’s ad-skipping DVR, the Hopper, are quite memorable and humorous to a native of Massachusetts, like me. The actors have thick Boston accents, and they repeatedly pronounce the name of the device the way any good Red Sox fan would: “Hop-ah.”

It’s ironic, though, that the Hopper’s commercials are so memorable. The device’s primary function is to eliminate commercials altogether. The Hopper automatically records the entire prime-time lineups for ABC, CBS, Fox and NBC. With a little user programming, however, many digital video recorders (DVRs) can do that. What sets the Hopper apart is that it enables playback completely sans commercials (versus fast-forwarding over them). Score another point for ad-slaying technology in the post-advertising age.

Is Path the Anti-Social Network?

Path: The Anti-Social Network?

Let’s face it: You’ll let anyone follow you on Twitter or Google+. You don’t care if 100 or 100,000 people know what you ate for breakfast. And while Facebook is inherently a permission-based network, you found that girl you dated in 5th grade and haven’t spoken to in 20 years and you friended her, right? It’s okay, though, because the social paradigm has shifted. 10 years ago a phone call to your neighbor who moved away when you were kids would be no less than creepy, but it’s common practice now.

In a world where influence and clout (or, Klout, I guess) is measured by reach, a social network that expressly limits the number of connections a user can have is almost audacious in this day of age. Or is it just what we need?


Is Google’s Social Search the New Normal?

Additional reporting by Story's Director of Audience Generation Cyrus Karimi.

In early December, Google updated their search algorithm to provide each user with personalized results—the information Google deemed most relevant to the specific user. The news garnered little chatter in the social media realm. According to Danny Sullivan at Search Engine Land, less than 50 news articles and blog posts were written about in its initial week (and only 290 to date).

Earlier this month Google made another important change, updating their search algorithm to include personalized search results specifically pulled from Google+ activity, naming the new results “Google Personalized Results.” Once again the news spread through social circles and landed on a few of blogs, but compared to the hoopla surrounding SOPA, Facebook Timeline, and emerging technologies like Pinterest, its effect was more of a ripple than a tidal wave and has many users and news outlets slamming the change.

However, love it or hate it, these changes may be the new "normal" for search, forever.