Changes Atop Facebook’s Communications Department

By Thursday, March 31, 2016 0 Permalink 0

Facebook vice president of technology communications Caryn Marooney will add business communications to her plate in May, when VP for global business communications Mike Buckley leaves the company.

Re/code reported that Buckley is departing his post at the social network to work full-time at a company he co-founded in 2012, New Frontier Foods.

According to Re/code, Marooney will handle the entire communications team on a day-to-day basis, reporting to president of communications and public policy Elliot Schrage.

Re/code shared Buckley’s message to his co-workers:

Facebook has been the best job I’ve ever had, and it’s crazy to think about leaving, but my little startup has a chance to be more than little—and I have to go for it.

According to Re/code, New Frontier Foods is best-known for its Ocean’s Halo seaweed snacks.

Images courtesy of the Facebook pages of Caryn Marooney and Mike Buckley.

Disney, Marvel Launch Marvel: Avengers Alliance 2 on Mobile

By Thursday, March 31, 2016 0 Permalink 0

Disney Interactive and Marvel Entertainment have announced the launch of Marvel: Avengers Alliance 2 on iOS and Android. The sequel to the original Marvel: Avengers Alliance allows players to create a team of super heroes featuring the Avengers, Daredevil, Guardians of the Galaxy, Spider-Man and more to battle against Ultron, Baron Strucker and other Marvel villains.

In Marvel: Avengers Alliance 2, players compete against enemies in three-on-three turn-based battles. Each hero has their own abilities or attacks players can trigger on each turn, and gamers can unlock additional abilities for their heroes over time.

Heroes earn experience points after each battle, and will become stronger as they level up. Players can also use the unstable Iso-8 items they collect to give their heroes extra experience points. Finally, once heroes reach level 10, players can equip them with Iso-8 crystals, which improve their stats. Crystals are parts of sets, and if players equip a single hero with en entire set of crystals, the hero will receive an additional bonus.

Gamers can recruit new heroes for their team by spending Power Cells to summon random heroes. Players will receive some free Power Cells as they play.

The game’s summoning system may also reward players with new abilities for their existing heroes, which can be equipped on each hero’s profile. To be specific, each hero can have a limited number of active abilities, so players can switch between these abilities to customize their gameplay.

In addition to the game’s story-based missions, players can complete Spec Op and Daily Op missions, and compete against other users in player-vs-player tournaments.

In an with SocialTimes, Justin Woods, senior producer at Disney Interactive, commented on the game:

We’re very very passionate about the Marvel franchise, and we’re passionate about RPGs, and I think that we’ve done a really great job bringing the successful formulas of the Marvel: Avengers Alliance franchise—like the three-on-three turn-based combat—and applied that to a game that feels really fresh and has enough new to it that really makes it feel like a great new experience on mobile platforms.

Marvel: Avengers Alliance 2 is available to download for free on the iTunes App Store, Google Play, Amazon Appstore and Windows Phone Store.

Can Influencer Marketing Really Motivate Purchases? (Study)

By Thursday, March 31, 2016 0 Permalink 0

More and more brands are realizing that influencers are way more effective than regular users (or even celebrity endorsers) at getting branded messages out there.

A new study by Dr. Jonah Berger from the Wharton School and the Keller Fay Group found that influencers have up to 22.2 times more conversations each week than regular users about purchasing recommendations.

But does it matter? According to the study, 82 percent of consumers polled said they were highly likely to follow a recommendation made by a micro influencer.

Brad Fay, co-founder, COO and lead researcher of the Keller Fay Group, commented on the study in a press release:

Many marketers today try to use celebrities as their influencer marketing solution, but they are missing out on a much bigger opportunity. Our research shows that real life influencers who are passionate about what they are recommending have significantly more buying conversations, and consumers are more likely to act on their recommendations.

Other key findings:

According to the study, 74 percent of the influencers encouraged someone to “buy it or try it,” something only 66 percent of the general population did.
It’s not just on social: 87 percent of the buying recommendations made by influencers are happening face-to-face.
Influencers were seen as more credible and believable than average people (94 percent vs. 83 percent), more knowledgeable (94 percent vs. 84 percent) and better at explaining how the product works or could be used (92 percent vs. 83 percent).

Dr. Berger analyzed the findings:

The growing importance of influencer marketing has led marketers to openly question exactly how impactful word of mouth is when coming from different types of consumers. This study has helped illuminate who has the greatest impact and why, which is a great tool for marketers as they try to harness the power of influencer marketing.

Readers: Do you trust marketing messages more from influencers?

Instagram Updates Overlay for Action-Driving Ads

By Thursday, March 31, 2016 0 Permalink 0

Instagram added more information to the overlay on its action-driving ads, which previously only supported “go to website” or “go to app store.”

The Facebook-owned photo- and video-sharing network said in an Instagram for Business blog post that the update to the overlay, which it introduced earlier in March, now pulls in information including the advertiser’s Facebook page and desired destination URL, adding that for mobile application install ads, “view in App Store” will appear for iOS apps and “view in Play Store” for Android offerings.

Instagram offered more details in the blog post:

To make sure quality customers take action from your ads, we charge advertisers based on the click on the overlay, not the initial tap.

Consumers can take action on your ads one of two ways—either by tapping once on the ad’s photo to reveal the overlay or by clicking on the call-to-action button. The majority of clicks occur on the call-to-action button you select, which will take users either directly to your website, the app or deep-link them directly into your app experience.

If you’re running action-based ads, the updated overlay helps drive valuable traffic to your website or app. The overlay is automatically included on all photo and carousel ads, so there’s no action needed to include the overlay in your ads. You can go into Ads Manager and manually edit your campaigns to include a specific display URL. If there’s no display URL listed, it will automatically default to the ad’s destination URL.

Instagram also provided a success story in the form of Stance Socks, saying that the character footwear company added a Shop Now button to its series of photo ads, resulting in an 80 percent leap in engagement and 36 percent better return on ad spend.

Readers: Have you interacted with ads on Instagram via its overlay?

Pregnant local meteorologist commemorates one whole week without being body-shamed

By Thursday, March 31, 2016 0 Permalink 0

Well, this milestone is a bummer.

Since the beginning of her pregnancy, meteorologist Lauren Jones has endured harsh online comments criticizing her wardrobe choices. This week, she snarkily celebrated one week — yes, just one week — free of body-shaming from her own viewers.

SEE ALSO: New mum has perfect response to body shaming 11 days after giving birth

“We are celebrating today because Lauren has gone one week without someone saying something mean to her about baby weight gain,” ;Jones’s coworker John Boel wrote in a Facebook post. ;”That’s a new record.” ;

Image: facebook/john boel

So far, commenters have been pretty supportive about Boel’s post. Nice improvement, commenters. Read more…

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Nintendo’s Miitomo Lets You Answer Questions, Learn More About Your Friends

By Thursday, March 31, 2016 0 Permalink 0

Nintendo has launched its first mobile app, Miitomo, in the U.S. and several other countries. The social app allows users to interact with their friends using Nintendo’s Mii characters.

With Miitomo, users create a Mii avatar to represent them in the app. Users can create a Mii from scratch, or import a Mii from their Nintendo Account, so long as they’ve allowed their existing Mii to be copied. Users can also import a Mii by scanning a Mii QR Code. Finally, users can create a Mii by taking a selfie and allowing the app to create the Mii.

When creating a Mii from scratch, users can select their Mii’s gender, customize its height and weight, and select from multiple facial features, hairstyles and more until they’re satisfied with its appearance.

Once users have created or imported a Mii, they will finalize their character by giving it a name and customizing its voice and personality. Users can choose from a selection of voice presets, and can customize their Mii’s voice by changing its pitch, energy, accent and more.

Users can also customize their Mii’s personality traits in terms of attitude, individuality, manners and more. Their selections will impact their Mii’s overall personality type (‘independent’ or ‘easygoing’ as examples), and users can tweak their Mii’s traits if they’d like a different result.

Once users finalize their Mii, they can begin answering questions like ‘What’s your favorite food,’ or ‘What did you do last weekend?’ Users can skip questions they don’t wish to answer, and can also answer these skipped questions at a later time. As users answer questions, their Mii will share their answers with their friends’ Miis. Users can also listen to their friends’ answers from their profiles by spending candy, a special currency. Users can post likes and comments on their friends’ answers.

Miitomo lets users add friends by connecting to Facebook and Twitter. Users can also become friends with other Miitomo users in the same room via a ‘face-to-face’ connection.

Users will earn coins as they answer questions, listen to friends’ responses and more, and can spend these coins on new clothing for their Mii in the app’s store. Users can also purchase additional coins with real money. Some items will only be available on the current day, encouraging users to check back often to find items they like. As users purchase new outfits, they can take pictures of their Mii and share them to social media.

In addition to purchasing clothing in the shop, users can play mini-games for a chance to receive extra clothing items or candy. Users can spend coins to play mini-games, or use the free game tickets they may receive over time.

In a statement, Scott Moffitt, executive vice president of sales and marketing at Nintendo of America, commented:

With Miitomo, Nintendo takes its first step into the world of smart devices. Miitomo brings the special Nintendo charm and polish that people around the world love to an entirely new format and audience.

Miitomo is available to download for free on the iTunes App Store and Google Play. The app was released in Japan earlier this month, and was downloaded more than one million times in the first three days after launch.

North Carolina faces massive backlash after anti-LGBT law

By Thursday, March 31, 2016 0 Permalink 0

North Carolina is facing an ever-growing wave of backlash after Gov. Pat McCrory signed a law last week erasing discrimination protections for LGBT residents and forcing transgender people to use bathrooms that align with the gender on their birth certificates. ;

Dozens of businesses, politicians and other organizations have lambasted the state and called for legislators to repeal the law.

SEE ALSO: Georgia’s Republican governor blocks anti-LGBT ‘religious liberty’ bill

The range of those opposed to the law includes CEOs of more than 80 businesses who initially signed a letter addressed to McCrory, voicing opposition to the law. The letter was published by the Human Rights Campaign, an LGBT advocacy group. Read more…

More about Human Rights Campaign, Nba, Laverne Cox, Apple, and Facebook

Has LinkedIn Made the Classic ‘Jack of All Trades’ Mistake?

By Thursday, March 31, 2016 0 Permalink 0

Any social network must deal with the tension between groups that use, maintain or run the service. Whether it’s Snapchat cutting off developer access to its API, or YouTube struggling with users over creator contracts, there always seems to be some discord. Now it seems the discord in LinkedIn’s business model is starting to impact the site as a whole.

LinkedIn began cutting off access to its API, preferring instead to set itself up as the sole provider of enterprise solutions on the network. While generally keeping all of the products in-house could be a good idea to improve control and focus, it seems that Linkedin hasn’t done enough to court enterprise customers.

According to TrapIt founder and CEO Hank Nothhaft Jr, instead of becoming more focused:

LinkedIn has become a jack of all trades and a master of none. It’s a mass-scale social network, an advertising platform, a recruiting technology solution provider, a sales-prospecting tool, an online training platform, and more.

The problem with this approach is that some of the most die-hard users of services are not only there for the core product, but for the peripheral services. Some enterprise users have seen large disruptions from LinkedIn’s decisions, and they’re not about to use LinkedIn’s inferior tools just because their contacts are on the site.

LinkedIn has been trying to also make the social aspect of the site more relevant. Their referrals program is an example of a change that has benefits for both users and to recruiters, but other initiatives like the CEO influencer program have been less effective. While not every product is a winner, LinkedIn needs to start having more hits and fewer misses.

The only way for a social network to achieve long term success is to meet the use cases for all that approach the service. Nothhaft suggests reopening the API, as enterprise providers are willing to pay for access because of the wealth of data LinkedIn has gathered. All LinkedIn needs to do from there is reap the rewards as the service becomes more useful to individual users and enterprise customers as well.

Nothhaft concludes:

None of this is rocket science. It’s just good old capitalism at work. If vendors, customers, and partners are all aligned, they all reap the rewards of a healthy ecosystem.

Image courtesy of dennizn / Shutterstock.com.

Facebook activates Safety Check after overpass collapse in India

By Thursday, March 31, 2016 0 Permalink 0

Facebook has activated its Safety Check feature, so people in Kolkata can let their loved ones know whether they are safe after the collapse of an overpass.

SEE ALSO: At least 15 killed, many injured in flyover collapse in Kolkata

At least 21 people were killed and dozens injured when a portion of an overpass that was under construction came crashing down on a crowded intersection in the eastern Indian city of Kolkata on Thursday afternoon local time, the Associated Press reported.

More people were feared trapped beneath the debris, and rescuers used saws, small cranes and their bare hands to search for survivors, according to the news agency. Its correspondent reported seeing smashed yellow taxis and rickshaws, and the bloody legs of trapped people jutting from the fallen steel beams and concrete. Read more…

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