Facebook’s Zuckerberg says user control of Safety Check coming

By Tuesday, August 30, 2016 0 Permalink 0

On Monday, Facebook cofounder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg dropped an unexpected piece of news in Italy on a topic currently at the top of the country’s collective conscious: safety. ;

SEE ALSO: Munich shooter may have used Facebook post to lure victims, police say

During an hour-long question and answer session in Rome, Zuckerberg confirmed that Facebook is working on a way to allow users to activate its Safety Check instead of only allowing the company to activate the feature. ;

The subject came up after an attendee asked Zuckerberg, “Is [Safety Check] going to change in the future? Will users be able to activate it on their own, perhaps to alert other people?” Read more…

More about Mark Zuckerberg, Italy, Safety Check, Facebook, and Tech

Instagram will soon suggest Stories from people you don’t follow

By Monday, August 29, 2016 0 Permalink 0

Instagram’s obvious bid to compete with Snapchat by launching a Stories feature was, apparently, just the beginning. ;

SEE ALSO: Instagram just declared war on Snapchat

Now the app will harness the power of Facebook’s algorithmic expertise to begin surfacing Instagram Stories from people you don’t already follow, according to a report from Techcrunch. ;

The suggestions will appear at the top of your screen and will be based primarily on your interests and the people you follow on the app. ;

When contacted by Mashable, the company confirmed that the reported changes are coming. Suggestions will also be drawn from Stories that are popular on that day, accounts with frequently popular Stories, as well as Stories from accounts that already come up in your current Explore grid. Read more…

More about Snapchat, Facebook, Instagram Stories, Apps, and Instagram

The Unexpected Ways Chat Bots Could Change Marketing

By Monday, August 29, 2016 0 Permalink 0

There’s an awkward moment at the outset of every new technology when marketers and agencies begin spasmodically craving it. This craving is often blind to whether the investment would solve a business challenge or if that money would be better spent by letting junior staffers roast marshmallows on a giant burning pyre of cocaine.

To date, much of the conversation around chat bots has been focused on replacing rote customer service for existing clients and “driving loyalty,” as spurious as that phrase has been shown to be by the good folks at the Ehrenberg-Bass Institute.

So we’re going to look at something different: four ways that chat bots could increase marketing effectiveness outside of giving existing customers a better experience. In short, how could chat bots be used to actually grow a brand and reach new customers?

How can chat bots increase reach by turning something boring into something fun? We know from decades of academic research and years of Facebook lift studies that reaching category buyers (especially light and lapsed buyers) is key to growing a brand. So rather than seeing chat bots as a way to service existing customers cheaper, we should be asking how chat bots can reach new buyers for the brand.

For example, is anything more boring than weather? Conversations about weather have become a symbol of milquetoast human interaction. A chat bot named Poncho the Weather Cat is changing that. Poncho, a fictional cat, can be reached on Facebook Messenger and will answer all your questions about what time it’s supposed to rain on Sunday in an amusing chat conversation.

For a certain audience, Poncho has made weather-checking a fun experience. The Weather Channel and others may have missed this opportunity. How could a chat bot actually be a more interesting introduction to what your company does? How could it increase ad performance? How it could generate organic reach? How could it capture information that could be repurposed into marketing automation?

One helpful tactical consideration is that, as revealed at this year’s F8 conference, you can now run reach-optimized Facebook News Feed ads that drive directly to your chat bot.

The world is still waiting on the first great idea for using chat bots for reaching new buyers–your brand should be working on that.

How can chat bots turn soul-deadening automated emails into personalized and fun proactive communication from the brand? Getting pounded in the inbox by a retail store hawking “20 percent deals on all halter tops through Sunday only” is a detestable experience. But imagine receiving, instead, “Hey–it’s the Gapbot. Not sure if your sundress game for this summer is tight already, but if you’re looking to up your game, let me know. I have a 10 percent coupon and can give you advice on colors, patterns and all that shiz.”

Seamless is already using a primitive chat bot to send proactive messages to check on how your order was received. One variation of the proactive communication is to reduce the latency of between necessary repeat purchases, like razors or printer cartridges.

The big question here is in what situations these chat bots are more valuable from the brand or for the retailer.

How can chatbots make early-funnel decision engines more sticky? There are an increasing number of situations where you need expert advice on something–How much house can I afford? How much life insurance do I need? What kind of shoes could I wear to work comfortably without looking sloppy?–but you realize that a robot could do the job. It’s no stretch of the imagination to realize that a chat bot is way better than you and perfectly adequate to answer these things.

In these situations, what’s essential is that the buyer’s expectation level is matched. For instance, I believe that a chat bot can ask me questions and help me figure out what level of life insurance I need, but that chat bot needs to know when to hand me off to “Chuck” the human life insurance agent to answer my questions.

How can chat bots improve surveys, uncovering better customer insights that can be used in product evolution, customer service and reaching new buyers? Historically, surveys have been inert and static questionnaires. The first research company to develop a chat bot that can dynamically adapt mid-survey–without blowing up methodological unassailability–would dominate other survey providers. Or if a brand with a perpetual research endeavor were to implement it itself, it could be customized specifically for its category and brand.

These are just four directional ways that chat bots could achieve results beyond the superficial. The most important question a marketer can ask about chat bots–or any new technology–is that of Wire Stone digital strategist Rachel Hitzig, who habitually asks, “What will this replace?”

If this is truly the beginning of the rise of chat bots, let it be the beginning of finding something to replace the old ways of solving actual business challenges. Otherwise, I’ll see you at the pyre.

Gunny Scarfo is vice president of strategy at Wire Stone, an independent digital marketing agency for global Fortune 1000 brands.

Image courtesy of Shutterstock.

Twitter Promoted Stickers Go to the Movies

By Monday, August 29, 2016 0 Permalink 0

The honor of the first Twitter Promoted Stickers campaign for a feature film went to Warner Bros. and its Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them.

Twitter said in an email to SocialTimes that users in the U.S., U.K., France, Japan, Brazil and Spain will see four custom stickers in their libraries inspired by Newt Scamander, the main character in the movie, adding:

The photos act as visual hashtags, meaning that fans who tap on a Promoted #Sticker will be able to see all of the other photos from others around the world. This also allows Warner Bros. to see and engage with the people who are using their stickers in creative ways.

Readers: What have your experiences been like with Twitter Promoted Stickers?

UPDATED: Justin Bieber Claims Return to Instagram ‘an Accident’

By Monday, August 29, 2016 0 Permalink 0

Life briefly returned to normal for “Beliebers” on Instagram Monday morning, as Justin Bieber appeared to reactivate his account following a two-week hiatus, but it’s gone again.

Bieber tweeted early Monday afternoon:

Still no Instagram it was an accident.

Bieber reportedly shuttered his account in reaction to negative comments about his photos with Sofia Richie, with ex-girlfriend Selena Gomez among those chiming in.

The bulk of the most recent posts that appeared while the account was briefly active feature his new dog, Todd.

Readers: Will he be back?

My new little fluff ball Todd

A photo posted by Justin Bieber (@justinbieber) on Aug 15, 2016 at 2:39pm PDT

Square Enix Announces Dissidia Final Fantasy: Opera Omnia for Mobile

By Monday, August 29, 2016 0 Permalink 0

Square Enix announced Dissidia Final Fantasy: Opera Omnia for iOS and Android. The role-playing game will feature characters from past games in the Final Fantasy franchise.

In Dissidia Final Fantasy: Opera Omnia, players will compete in battles that incorporate the brave system from other Dissidia Final Fantasy games.

Interested players can pre-register for the game on its website for a chance to receive an in-game reward after the game launches.

Dissidia Final Fantasy: Opera Omnia will join multiple other Final Fantasy games on mobile. For instance, Final Fantasy Brave Exvius launched on iOS and Android in June, while Mobius Final Fantasy was released for iOS and Android in August.

In Final Fantasy Brave Exvius, players join two knights, Rain and Lasswell, on their quest to save the world. Mobius Final Fantasy, meanwhile, allows players to work to become the Warrior of Light that will save the world from darkness.

Readers: Are you interested in playing Dissidia Final Fantasy: Opera Omnia?

Beyoncé Rules Twitter During MTV’s 2016 Video Music Awards

By Monday, August 29, 2016 0 Permalink 0

Beyoncé squeezed the Twitter lemon into Lemonade during MTV’s Video Music Awards Sunday night.

Her performance of Lemonade was the most tweeted moment during the VMAs, and she was the night’s most mentioned celebrity.

Luciano Ibias, who works on U.S. media partnerships for Twitter, said in a blog post that the most tweeted about moments from three hours prior to Sunday night’s broadcast through the end were:

  1. Beyoncé finishes performing Lemonade.
  2. Kanye West debuts his new video for Fade.
  3. Rihanna accepts the Vanguard Award.
  4. West gives a speech about the Famous video and says, “I see you, Amber,” to Amber Rose in the crowd.
  5. Rihanna performs for the second time.

And the most-tweeted-about people Sunday night were:

  1. Beyoncé
  2. Rihanna
  3. West
  4. Drake
  5. Fifth Harmony

Ibias also noted the debut on custom VMAs stickers for Rihanna, Britney Spears, Nick Jonas, Future, Chance the Rapper, The Chainsmokers and MTV, providing examples below.

Readers: Did you engage on Twitter during the VMAs Sunday night?

Facebook’s Trending Topics highlights fake Megyn Kelly story days after dropping editors

By Monday, August 29, 2016 0 Permalink 0

That didn’t take long.

Just days after removing editors from curating Trending Topics, Facebook’s news-driven section surfaced a fake story about Fox News anchor Megyn Kelly.

This is just about a worst-case scenario for Facebook, which had previously been battling allegations that its Trending editors had discriminated against conservative news outlets. ;

Facebook removed the article after a few hours. ;

Trending Topics editors originally used data from Facebook users to then curate news stories and write Facebook-friendly headlines and synopses.

Now, algorithms are running almost the entire thing. The headlines are gone, and so are the editors, having reportedly been laid off. ; Read more…

More about Business, Election 2016, Digital Media, Facebook, and Media

Mojang Previews Boss Update Coming to Minecraft on Mobile, Windows 10

By Monday, August 29, 2016 0 Permalink 0

Microsoft and Mojang released details about a new update coming to Minecraft: Pocket Edition, Minecraft: Windows 10 Edition Beta and Minecraft Gear VR Edition. The update is called the Boss Update, and it will add two new boss characters to the game, as well as new building materials and slash commands.

In terms of bosses, players will be able to fight the Elder Guardian boss as they explore new underwater Ocean Monuments. In addition, players will be able to summon Wither bosses and defeat them to collect Nether Stars. These Nether Stars can be used to craft beacons.

Elsewhere, this update will give players access to sea lanterns, prismarine blocks and sponges.

Finally, the Boss Update will add support for slash commands to the game. These slash commands allow users to change their games in various ways. The update will include 20 slash commands, which will allow users to switch back and forth between survival and creative modes, change the time of day or weather, instantly summon a mob and more. Mojang said additional slash commands will be added to the game in the future.

The Boss Update is expected to launch in Minecraft: Pocket Edition, Minecraft: Windows 10 Edition Beta and Minecraft Gear VR Edition this fall. Users who play Minecraft: Pocket Edition on Android can sign up to test the update in a public beta here.