Author Archive for Mark Plumb

01
Apr
14

Instagram Launches X-Ray Vision Filter: The new way to creep

When a well-intentioned product falls into the wrong hands.

Instagram's new x-ray vision filterCoastal Securitas, the Hollywood-based, high-end security firm to the stars, commissioned Ideal Creations from Dallas to create an infrared filter that could be affixed over existing security camera systems to provide ‘night vision’.

While in beta-testing, the engineers from Ideal Creations discovered that not only could they see a pretend intruder, they were able to see if the intruder was carrying a concealed weapon under their clothes. It didn’t dawn on them until testing with female pretend intruders that they were actually able to see the bodies underneath the clothes.

The Ideal Creations engineers, harkening back to the ‘X-ray Specks’ of their youth, realized another use for the infrared filter. They manufactured the filter so that it can be placed over the camera on a smartphone and allow you to see through lightweight fabric. This may have just been another go-nowhere gadget until the online video/photo-sharing mobile app Instagram, decided to add the x-ray vision filter to its already impressive list of digital filters.

Instagram, owned by Facebook since 2012, is launching the x-ray vision filter so users will now be able to upload a photo of choice and ultimately, see what’s underneath the surface.

When Instagram senior product developer, Phillip McKrakken, saw the x-ray vision filter, he immediately bought one and went through his Facebook friends pics with renewed interest. McKrakken said, “I initially thought it would be awesome to see which of my friends had tattoos. Then, I saw some unexpected piercings. I knew immediately that Instagram needed this filter.”

McKrakken continued, “Having the filter on your phone is overtly, well, creepy. I get it. But, if you are taking pictures and then apply the x-ray vision filter later, it’s not much different than Photoshop.” McKrakken believes the new filter will revolutionize on-line dating. “It will be the must-have filter to see if that person is really who they say they are in their profile.” He is currently testing the x-ray vision filter on Match.com, eHarmony, Zoosk, PlentyOfFish, DateHookup, Christian Mingle, Chemistry, SpeedDate and (of course) Tinder. McKrakken continues, “The results have been amazing. I feel like I’ve gone on a lot of first dates without having to learn about people’s annoying habits or having them ask me what I do for a living.”

The filter is available for download today at instagram.com/x-rayfilter/download.

And if you really clicked on the filter, you have been had! April Fools from your friends at Weise Communications.

 

 

 

 

06
Jun
13

Google Glass: Cool Technology or Pain in the Glass

Google GlassThe latest technology that’s receiving worldwide buzz among tech and gadget gurus is what Google calls “Google Glass”. Google Glass is Google’s endeavor to make wearable computing, i.e. smart glasses, mainstream.

Glass was first described as being simple to use, allowing users to record what you see, hands-free, even sharing what you see live, and having directions right in front of you. However, Google hasn’t quite worked out all the kinks yet, and Saturday Night Live reminds us that Glass is still in the early stages.

But the idea behind Glass is still pretty amazing. So, what makes Glass so “smart”? What can they do that other glasses can’t? Glass has a built-in camera, microphone and GPS. Once it is engaged, it is capable of many actions including: taking photographs, recording video clips, searching for answers on Google, showing calendar reminders, etc.

Voice activation is used to control Glass with certain commands, Google describes some voice commands as, “say ‘take a picture’ to take a picture,” “speak to send a message,” and so on.

The wearer can see what the screen is projecting simply by glancing up. Google released a “How It Feels” video to show those interested what it would be like wearing Glass, if you dare.

The glasses are set for release late 2013. The hefty price for smart glasses? $1,500.

With the launch of these glasses, two groups have been formed, the lovers and the haters. Which Glass group do you fall into and why? Tell us your opinion! Leave a comment below and be sure to follow Weise on Facebook and Twitter to receive news and industry updates.

01
May
13

HootSuite: SEO Killer or a Hotel for Owls?

HootSuiteWe are fans of HootSuite, the convenient, social media aggregation tool. We use HootSuite to scheduled posts in advance for the agency and for clients. HootSuite saves time publishing content to Twitter and Facebook. It keeps all social media streams in one location. HootSuite enables us to map out a tweet schedule, collaborate and edit future tweets.

However, we have been asked a very interesting question: Does using a third party social media pre-scheduling tool negatively affect our SEO ranking?

For this to be true search engines would not only be scanning and evaluating content, but focus on the posting methodology. We cannot find evidence that search engines are penalizing third party application programming interfaces (API). It is important to note that HootSuite makes is easy to post redundant content and commit other SEO errors.

However, we have found a HootSuite opponent – Facebook. According to a HubSpot study, content shared by third party API services received fewer likes on Facebook and fewer clicks. Facebook sees tools like HootSuite as possible vehicles for spam, and punishes Facebook pages that rely on these tools for the majority of their postings.

Our recommendation for marketers:

1. Use HootSuite to schedule non-time sensitive social media.

2. Do not use HootSuite as the exclusive method to post content.

Social Media is about engagement and if all the content provided is automated, is there much engagement? Also, it is critical to be timely and relevant. If there is a new story that has captured the collective attention of the country and you are posting a video that shows a behind the scenes look at an event, nobody is going to pay attention. Worse yet, you look like you are out of touch.

Tell us if you have used HootSuite successfully and if you agree that third party API doesn’t affect your SEO.  Share your stories with us on Facebook at Weise Communications and follow @Weise_Ideas on Twitter.

14
Mar
13

Vine’s six-second video new to social, provides marketing opportunity

GAP Vine TwitterTwitter, which currently claims around 500 million total users, recently launched the new video platform called Vine.  This platform allows users to share videos. In social media terms, think of Vine as a combination of Instagram and YouTube.

Vine allows users to create looping videos for friends and family, but the recording time must be six seconds in duration.

According to cognitive research, as humans we can comfortably process 2-3 words and one image per second. A Vine video of 18 words and five images should be your maximum. A six-second video is comparable to Twitter’s required 140 characters or less for a tweet.  Currently, Vine is free, but only available for the iPhone. However, it is making a large splash with fans. In just one weekend, more than 100,000 videos were uploaded to Twitter via Vine.

Many businesses are jumping on this six-second-video-clip bandwagon and are utilizing the tool for marketing purposes. Companies, such as GAP, Topshop and Threadless are using Vine as a platform to shoot short video clips of behind-the-scenes action. We expect to see teasers of larger marketing and promotional campaigns on Vine.

Vine also helps companies to drive traffic to other social media channels by including an essential call-to-action at the end of the video, such as “follow me to Twitter” or “like our Facebook page”. If done well, these clips should emotionally connect to the story, which is a vital component of marketing. Another brilliant marketing aspect of Vine videos is the endless looping, and repetition is key in increasing awareness of a brand or product.

For marketing endeavors, Vine can be a great tool to drive traffic, promote a product, etc., so long as the video includes a call-to-action in the end of the six- second clip.

Will your company be joining Vine to leverage marketing efforts? Do you think Vine will be better over time like fine wine or simply another in a line of social media apps that decline?

A huge thank you to Sarah Shepard for her research and contribution to this blog.

Share your thoughts about Vine with us on Facebook at Weise Communications and follow @Weise_Ideas on Twitter.

04
Mar
13

Top 10 Things We Learned at the IFA Conference (Part 2)

In Part 1 of our Top 10 list, we shared franchise industry insights Tracy and I learned at the International Franchise Association (IFA) 2013 conference in Las Vegas. Today, we are rounding out our list with the marketing takeaways.

Kate Upton says that Carl's Jr. sandwich is spicyOne of the strategic marketing concepts that we thought was astute came from Andrew Pudzer, CEO of CKE Restaurants, describing the Carl’s Jr and Hardee’s ‘Young Hungry Guys’ target market. Andrew discussed at great length the Aspirational target market vs. Direct target market. This has manifested itself into a regular SuperBowl ad with some of the ‘it’ girls of the day. Last year’s ad was one of the most talked about after the big game and featured Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue cover girl Kate Upton. You might think we mentioned this to give us a reason to feature Kate Upton in our blog, you might be right.

Here are the five marketing takeaways from IFA 2013:

1. 25 – 29% of ALL Internet traffic comes from a mobile device. The percentage is continually increasing. Businesses that choose to ignore creating a mobile optimized site or developing a mobile app are going to be in trouble. Consider this: if you gave a bad experience to 1 out of 4 prospects, would you fix the problem?

2.  SEO Killer: less than 1% of franchise business listings are accurate in the top three search engines (Google, Bing and Yahoo). It may be as simple as inconsistencies across business locations. I searched “UPS Store” and found these four results on the first page:

        • theupsstore.com                       –>  Thornton, CO
        • theupsstorelocal.com/2579      –>   Denver, CO (7th & Broadway)
        • shipgeorgetown.com                –>  Georgetown, TX
        • fsups.net                                  –>  Tallahassee, FL

3.  The overwhelming majority of franchisors we’ve met do not have the patience for social media. They keep talking about wanting some old school reactions instead of engagement, sharing or interactions. This attitude must change or Millennials will focus on brands that understand.A lack of consistency with the URLs means a more generic search like “package shipping” won’t include UPS Store locations. In fact, the search returned a US Post Office, 2 FedEX office locations and 1 DHL location.

Equally important point, do not hire interns or entry level newbies to “do” your social media. Being a digital native does not make someone a social media expert or marketer.

4. Google is working with the IFA to make Google more franchise-friendly. This is a important development for concepts that are not brick and mortar.

5. We’ve heard of success across different franchise systems using a retargeting program. Retargeting keeps track of people who visit your site and displays your retargeting ads to them as they visit other sites online. Every time your prospect sees your ad as it follow them, your brand gains traction and more recognition. This Kate Upton Carl's Jr.has resulted in higher click-through rates and increased conversions.

All interesting stuff you say, but we know you want more Kate Upton. OK, we get it.

Let us know if you think we missed something. Share your thoughts about IFA with us on Facebook at Weise Communications and follow @Weise_Ideas on Twitter.

25
Feb
13

Top 10 Things We Learned at the IFA Conference (Part 1)

Seven inches of snow greeted the Weise Communications team upon landing in Denver from the International Franchise Association (IFA) 2013 conference in Las Vegas. Paris Hilton AdThe conference was full of highlights, including:

CEO of CKE Restaurants, Andrew Puzder explaining how Carl’s Jr and Hardee’s bucked the trend of targeting mom’s with children for a fast food restaurant and changing to a ‘Young Hungry Guys’ target which led to the infamous Paris Hilton commercial and unprecedented revenue increases.

A lasting, and to many frustating experience, was the image is the ½ mile long line of people queuing up to attend the speech given by former U.S. Secretary of State and National Security Advisor Dr. Condoleezza Rice. Her speech and the following Q&A were fantastic. She received multiple standing ovations from this friendly audience.

The four-day conference didn’t disappoint. After panels, concurrent sessions, roundtables and a host of meetings, we are going to break-up the top ten takeaways Tracy and I collected at the conference. Today, the first 5 takeaways deal with macro trends and issues that are franchise business specific. In part 2, we will reveal our marketing takeaways.

1. In 2012, there was optimism that economy is turning and that financing for franchisors and potential franchisees was beginning to loosen. That optimism has continued despite the November election eliminating the chance of a lower corporate tax rate.

2. Speaking of the elections, instead of focusing on electing business-friendly government officials, the election has provided certainty how the country will be governed. We are already seeing the impact of higher taxes, burdensome regulations and costly entitlement programs. The franchising industry response needs to be: adapt, figure out how to work the rules and grow business.

3. In a panel discussion featuring Shelly Sun of BrightStar Tariq Farid, CEO Edible Arrangements and Steve Greenbaum, CEO PostNet there was an exchange about indicators of when to make changes to the franchise business model. Tariq said all franchise systems will eventually have to change. Steve provided us with key indicators on when to consider making changes. They included:

  • When your customers’ needs have changed
  • When technology has evolved past your business
  • When there is over-saturation in the marketplace
  • When there is an absence of differentiation with your business and the marketplace
  • When year over year sales are flat or declining

4. There was a lot of discussion about paying referrals to franchisees to gain new franchise sales leads. There are two legal concerns that need to be considered:

  • If a franchisor pays too much for a referral, they are exposing themselves to a potential liability. The franchisee could be considered a broker and be exposed to licensing issues
  • The franchisee could be held to the same financial disclosure requirements as the FDD

5. Operation Enduring Freedom and the VetFran Program has been a raving success. The stated goals were to recruit and hire 75,000 veterans to careers in franchising by the end of 2014. IFA President Steve Caldeira gave an update during his State of Franchising address: 64,880 veterans, military spouses and wounded warriors have started careers in franchising.

Let us know if you think we missed something. Share your thoughts about IFA with us on Facebook at Weise Communications and follow @Weise_Ideas on Twitter.

Be on the lookout for our top five marketing takeaways from 2013 International Franchise Association Conference.

 

12
Feb
13

More than Social Media: Marketing to Millennials

Millennials: They are mobileWhile attending an emergency preparedness workshop last week, there was a robust discussion regarding the role of social media in an emergency. There were two groups of people that discounted social media.

  • First, there were those people that reside in rural areas. They argued that cellular coverage was spotty, 3G and 4G networks virtually non-existent. They needed a more reliable communication method in an emergency.
  • Second, was a distinct generational gap – the Baby Boomers in the room (born before 1964) were unanimous in denouncing the importance of social media.

Interestingly, there was a group of Millennials (born after 1984) in the workshop who were unanimous in stating the power of social media. Full disclosure: I am in Generation X (1965-1984), and in this workshop the Gen Xers were divided about the importance of social media.

The generational gap became an interesting discussion among the small group of marketing professionals. The following are the differences I see in marketing to Boomers v. Millennials.

Category

Baby Boomers

Millennials

Advertising Method Unwelcomed Interruption Engagement
Advertising Content Features and Benefits Sincere Authenticity
Desired Response Reaction Share/Interaction
Desired Result Repeat Users Engaged Participants
Expectations Big Promises Personal Gestures
Marketing Success Consumer Co-creator
Never Return Broken Promise Corporate Shill


Marketers have figured out how to position their products and services to the Baby Boomers. However, for many, it is a new frontier in marketing to Millennials. Here are a few tips:

  • Tablets are currency to the MillennialsCompanies must develop a participation strategy in order to engage Millennials. This is not a quick fix; patience, consistency and long-term commitment are key factors to success.
  • Companies must provide a way to make Millennials look good to their peers. All you need to do is look at the way Apple markets products. The white earbuds of an iPod became an iconic symbol. If you had the earbuds, you were identified as part of the inner circle.
  • Millennials strongly desire to be part of the solution supporting a greater cause. They favor employers who actively support charitable organizations and they purchase products and services from companies that are active with altruistic endeavors.
  • Mobile presence is no longer negotiable if you are targeting Millennials. It is not just access by smartphone; they are also using tablets and gaining knowledge about your company through mobile apps.

All in all, if you want success in marketing to Millennials, you should seriously consider utilizing these four tips. Even better, when combining these tips with a reward program that provides genuine value as compensation for loyalty, you have a winning formula. Because what Millennial doesn’t like ‘free’ compensation.

Let us know your thoughts on marketing to Millennials. Share your thoughts with us on Facebook at Weise Communications and follow @Weise_Ideas on Twitter.




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