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The End of Google+

There have been plenty of debates and critics over its legitimacy as a “true” social network, but Google+ as we know it is going away. Because online interaction is increasingly visual, mobile and fast moving, Google is hoping its new breakdown of services will meet the needs of the marketplace. The company announced this week that it is breaking Google+ into two separate platforms called Photos and Streams. Bradley Horowitz, the current vice president of product management for Google+, made the announcement on his page.

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For more than a year, there have been rumours that the social media platform was going to be changed or even shuttered altogether. The move to separate feeds, industry experts say, is a result of Google’s exhaustive and most likely unlimited amount of user data to use and analyse. The company is well positioned to understand user behaviour and trends. It seems digital people are much more likely to gravitate towards visual mediums.

Given the popularity of platforms like Instagram, Snapchat and Pinterest, it is understandable why Google is moving in that direction. Highly committed users of Google+ have always focused on the visual elements of the platform.

Sundar Pichai, Google’s senior vice president for products, spoke to Forbes about the change in the platform. “I think increasingly you’ll see us focus on communications, photos and the Google+ Stream as three important areas, rather than being thought of as one area,” he said in an interview to the magazine. Google+’s photo sharing and saving capabilities is one of the most used parts of the platform. Google+ stores all of your photos in virtual albums that are automatically organized and edited by Google’s algorithms. The future of Google+’s popular Hangouts feature is unclear.

The advent of digital marketing has changed the perception of brands in the marketplace. Thanks in a part to the conversational and emotional nature of social media, the near-human persona of brands has sparked quite the debate in recent weeks.
Company social media profiles help to create a “pseudo” person in the eyes of many. As users, we chat with faceless companies, like their posts, and share what they have to say in the same way we share family photos from the wedding last weekend and Timmy’s first rugby match. Businesses realise that their presence on social media is necessary to cultivate brand recognition, sentiment and loyalty. Content marketing and brand storytelling thorough social media have grown as effective techniques in reaching new audiences and potential customers. Companies have slowly made their way into our Facebook and Twitter feeds. They adopt puppies, complete crazy stunts to get our attention, and send us messages when we are watching the telly. They are just like all of us in a lot of ways.
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Except they aren’t people, are they?
Sure, there is often just an unnamed digital marketing executive sitting in the dark, surrounded by screens and computers, “listening” and monitoring everything. They respond to people looking for a response, retweet, or mention. But for the most part, brands aren’t real people. Although we can like them, follow them, and favourite them, they aren’t real.
But does that mean we should change the practice of interactive digital marketing? Should there be blame for their reception as being more than just companies simply trying to lure money from their audience’s pockets? Should we hate brands for “fooling” us into thinking they are real beings ?
The Coca-Cola company was the recent target of what some saw as a well-proven point about brands on social media; others called it an unnecessary attack. The company was forced to shut down a multi-million pound social media campaign because it was manipulated by a news site to automatically share passages of Adolf Hitler’s ‘Mein Kampf’ on Twitter. The passages of Hitler’s writings were sent to Coca-Cola by the popular blog site Gawker.
In their digital campaign, the soft drinks company wanted social media users to tag ‘negative’ tweets with a #MakeItHappy. The company would then automatically edit those words into cute pictures made of ASCII code, and send them back to Twitter world. The “intention” of the drinks company was to make the Internet a better, more positive place, but it was not meant to be. Because the obvious intention of Coke was to create a buzz-worthy moment and sell more products with the digital campaign, it was an easy target for Gawker. They manipulated Coke’s happiness machine to interpreting a white supremacy slogan: “We must secure the existence of our people and a future for White Children”. The machine turned that statement into a cartoon dog.
In a statement to Adweek, the company released the following:
“The #MakeItHappy message is simple: The Internet is what we make it, and we hoped to inspire people to make it a more positive place. It’s unfortunate that Gawker is trying to turn this campaign into something that it isn’t. Building a bot that attempts to spread hate through #MakeItHappy is a perfect example of the pervasive online negativity Coca-Cola wanted to address with this campaign.”
Coca-Cola was forced to shut the campaign off. But from a digital point of view, the whole situation was probably inevitable. Whenever an automated system is built, clever users will find a way to abuse it. It is rule number one in the Trolls’ Handbook. But, what was Gawker did “trolling”, or were they simply showing the man behind the curtain claiming to be a wizard?
What do you think? Tell us on Twitter with @growwithorganic, or join us on other social media platforms like FacebookLinkedIn or Google Plus.

Advertisers have long been attached to well-established social media sites like Facebook and Twitter. But in recent years, untapped millions of potential customers have been Snapchatting and Instagraming away without the obvious push/pull of advertisers. More importantly, traditionally hard-to-reach demographics like teenagers have been just beyond the marketers reach.
But the untapped social media platforms have a dilemma. To be financially successful, they need to find ways to monetise their service that is otherwise free to users. That is where paying advertisers come in. And for some companies, that is the point when their users leave.
snapchat
After a recent update, Snapchat – one the largest platforms for teens – was harshly criticised by its fan base about disabling a feature that allowed users “snoop” on their friends by seeing who they interacted with the most. Amidst the uproar, Snapchat caved into its users and will reinstate the “best friend” function. But, the site is keeping its newly released Discover tool. They now let media outlets post bite-sized content on the popular messaging app. Through Discover, users tap to open a new edition, swipe left to browse through different stories, or swipe up to see more from a story.
Through this new capability, Snapchat has the support of a number of media partners, mostly US-based brands including CNN, ESPN, and National Geographic. Everyday, companies will tell a new “story” through Snapchat. They feature both videos and articles hand-picked by their staffers. These companies are hoping the getting new eyes on their stories will bring in a new, younger audience to their normal digital channels – hopefully just an app click away.
instagram
Another new power player in the social media area, Instagram, released an update this week to enhance its video playback capabilities. It has modified its video settings so that clips automatically replay in users’ streams. This looping function will appeal to brands and advertisers who want to get as many views for their ads as possible. Unlike the Snapchat change, users of Instagram may not be instantly impressed by the change. Not only will “autoplay” eat up data, as of now there no way to disable autoplaying altogether. Industry experts believe the move by Instagram is a direct challenge of Vine, the social network built on looped, 6-second videos. Instagram provides users 15 seconds to get their video across, but many of those are not designed to be looped. Users have also criticised the standard of the Instagram video in comparison to their more stylised photograph options.
What do you think of the new upgrades to Snapchat and Instagram? Tell us on Twitter with @growwithorganic, or join us on other social media platforms like FacebookLinkedIn or Google Plus.

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So you’ve just had the call to do live event coverage for a major global brand. Well done.
 
Have you filled your pants yet as the enormity of what you’ve got to do settles in?
 
Don’t worry that’s totally normal.
 
We recently had the privilege of joining Samsung At Work as their live team in Barcelona at the Mobile World Congress. The event brought together over 85,000 tech lovers from over 200 countries around the world, and Samsung officially unveiled their hotly anticipated Samsung Galaxy S5 as well as new advancements in wearable technology and other devices.
 
During the event we had to attend presentations and do live social and blogging, film audience reactions, interview product experts and partners, create a steady stream of blog content (and then promote it via social) and generally create a huge buzz around the Samsung line-up.
 
So yeah, it was a biggie.
 
Our work at Mobile World Congress was hot on the heels of a hugely successful event by Like Minds in New York. We were there supporting Like Minds in their first American event which was held in association with Ogilvy & Mather. It went down a storm, and we had some pretty hot results via our social and live blogging work.
 
Looking back on these two events we’ve decided to pull together some essential tips to make sure that, when you do live event coverage for a big brand you deliver big.
 
1. Assemble A Crack Team Of Mercenaries PromotionalTech Geeks. If you’re going to cover a live event, especially for a major brand, you have to know that your team are experts and can work together easily. We had a four-man camera crew with a producer , co-ordinator and social media wiz onsite, and a team of content creators back at the office. That way we could work social and do filming and editing on the spot and quickly turn out content for the client’s blog.
 
2. Proper Preparation Prevents Piss Poor Performance. You’ve got to remember that when covering a live event, speed is of the essence, but you can’t sacrifice quality too much. There will be a lot of noise on social media and to ensure you don’t get lost in the hubbub you need to strike first.
 
The brand you’re working for will have speech copy and presentation notes available for you, so write your tweets, and have images and links ready to go. That way as soon as an interesting quote happens live, BAM! You send your prepped tweet and are the first ones to get it out there. This means you’ll get more engagement, things will be accurate and you can concentrate on getting ad lib sound bites from the audience and engage with online activity.
 
3. Crack The Whip. One tweet from our account to a landing page during Mobile World Congress led to 1535 visits to a whitepaper download page. You’ve got to leverage the engaged audience and drive them to targeted pages and assets. If there are media links that people can access to find out more about products or about a speech, then use it.
 
4. Tart It Up. Make sure to use images, vox pops and quotes from people regularly to drive engagement. People love to be mentioned on social, it’s all part of it, and being mentioned or quoted by a big brand really gets people moist. Also big brands that engage in conversation are seen as approachable thought leaders.
 
5. Book ‘Em Danno. Even small events can be hectic, and once you’re at huge events with global brands there is so much going on that people have to try and run to a schedule as much as possible. Don’t think you’ll just be able to wing an interview with company CEOs and other important bods. You need to plan out who you want to talk to and book time in advance. If you want to get interviews with big names that will excite people you need to book in early. And no, not a day or two before you go. We’re talking weeks or even months.
 
6. Follow Their Lead. Big brands will always have a strict order in which information can be released, and you may receive information that is strictly embargoed. If you know what’s good for you, you’ll follow their instructions to the letter. Also make sure you have a key point of contact you can go to for information, approval of any social activity or live blogs if required and to generally field questions. There’s a temptation to act off the cuff at live events but when you’re representing someone else it’s never a good idea, unless they’ve pre-approved you to freewheel. Submitting to the hierarchy may not be in your blood, but for a live event it provides a safety net. If you tweet about something you shouldn’t but your contact approved it…well, you’re covered.
 
7. Rein It In. When you’re in the middle of a big event it really does feel like the world begins and ends at the exhibition space doors. All you want to do is go on and on about it on social, but don’t go mental. Not everyone following the event will be there, so try to limit your tweets to 12 per hour for an important presentation and try to roughly follow the 80/20 rule and make no more than about 20% of tweets link to your landing page. The rest should be relevant info to all your followers and not just those at the event, as well as direct interaction with others.
 
8. The Rule Of 3. An old survivalist motto advises you have three of any essential items, “two is one, and one is none”, because it’s Sod’s Law that just when you need something it will break or you’ll have lost it. Remember when you’re in a huge exhibition centre doing live social/blogging you’re there for the duration so always take spare chargers and extra devices. As soon as you arrive find out where you can charge and make sure any information you need is synced across devices by uploading vital files to a cloud-based storage system.  At long conferences, device energy runs low even faster than yours will!
 
We also asked our head videographer, Tim Dollimore, to offer his advice on filming outstanding footage at live events.
 
9. Know Your Stuff! Sounds obvious but sometimes people just turn up without a clue. Our team was briefed carefully and we always bone up on the pertinent issues that flying about at big events. We ensure we know our brand and what our client’s products and new releases are. Reviewing existing material from brand video channels is a great way to ensure that we can create content that was of a similar or higher standard.
 
10. Know The Field Of Battle. Waking up in a strange place is always disorienting and even more so when you have an important and pressing job to do. Knowing the location and the event is the key to having that added level of confidence when walking in on the first day.
 
11. Be Prepared. Dib dib dib dob dob dob… A life lesson, but take time to prepare your kit so that you have everything you need plus spares and backup options. Then on top of that ensure your team is able to carry and handle all the kit. This means you can quickly and easily move about to capture where and when needed…
 
We hope these tips make your coverage of a live event successful. Just remember that no matter how well you prepare, the nature of live events is that things will never go exactly to plan, so be prepared to roll with it and stay positive.
 
Have you covered live events for other companies? What were your experiences? Any tips you’d like to share or horror stories? Let us know in the comments or on our social media channels.