Add a commentYou Should Make a Video Game

I had the privilege of spending last week working at San Diego Comic-Con with Microsoft. Its Games Studios wanted presenters to talk about the future of game design, and for some reason they wanted one of those people to be me. This was all in an effort to promote the upcoming game development software Project Spark, which opens up video game design to more than just computer scientists. It makes it so kids, adults, parents, teachers and students can all jump into complex game development in a very easy-to-use and easy-to-understand way.

Throughout the four-day event I spoke one-on-one with a wide range of people. The interactions that stood out the most though were kids and their parents. Project Spark requires some coding and development in order to create video games. Something that shouldn’t sound too appetizing to a 6-year-old. But every time I demonstrated a simple line of code, (WHEN: A is pressed DO: jump) which made the video game character jump up and down every time I hit the A button on a controller, little eyes lit up.

Coding, development and gaming are becoming the playthings of the next generation of communicators. Every parent I talked with told me about how they had their kid messing around with Scratch or Hopscotch (programming languages geared towards kids). They spoke about fun mini-sites their kids were developing and online resources they were playing around with. Now gaming is joining the open-source movement.

As I was walking through how you can make your own video game, kids were picking it up almost instantly (watch a 5-year-old explain game design). That’s in part because gaming is already everywhere around them. Points, levels, rewards, online competition, Club Penguin. These are staples of the 21st Century Playground. As gamification seeps more into our everyday lives, it moves closer and closer to the focal point of a communications strategy.

So what is my recommendation?

Think of communications like a gamer. Think about why the original Super Mario Brothers was so captivating in its 8-bit glory. It’s the challenge, the points, the score, the progression.  And it’s all of these things wrapped up together in a story (sometimes a very loose interpretation of the term) that makes you feel accomplished.

Gaming is no longer a fad, a platform for kids or a purely entertainment outlet. As future-leaning communicators, we should embrace gaming and gamification and understand how big of an impact it will have on our industry.

From my experience, the best way to embrace is to understand. Try making a game. It’s much easier than you think. Understand the architecture of gamification. There are a number of free tools to get you started:

  • Project Spark is free and currently available only on Windows 8 and Xbox One. That is my software of choice, because it’s simple to get you started and has very advanced layers when you’re ready to play with code and mechanics.
  • Scratch may seem geared towards kids, but it doesn’t matter. I’ve learned a lot from it myself. And it’s free, brought to you by MIT.
  • Sploder is a free online tool that is dead simple to make your own quick 2D game. It’s a bit limited, but great for people who want to dabble without getting into any sort of coding.
  • Game Maker Studio has a free version that is limited in what you can create, but great if you just want to poke around to see what gaming is all about.

So there is my big challenge to you: make a video game.

sdcc

 

Comments OffINFOGRAPHIC: 2014 Oscars Broadcast Sponsorships Impact in Social Media

Advertisers spent millions of dollars securing sponsorship slots for the 86th Annual Academy Awards. Samsung, American Express and Lipton among the most visible on Oscars night . How did that translate to the social media conversation for these brands? A well-covered selfie might make you think Samsung ran away with all the prizes, so we dug a little deeper than conventional wisdom and found some interesting activity that fueled a couple of lessons.

We utilized Crimson Hexagon to scan for posts associated with the Oscars and selected sponsors. We limited the analysis to advertisers that produced a measurable social media impact. I’m sure there were more sponsors than we examined but we caught the big ones.

Two insights we developed:

  1. It’s fine to staff up your social media team for the big event, but keep them around for the next day too — when the conversation gets the most traction.
  2. Depending on your business objectives, find the metrics that best help you prove that your activity is having an impact. Hint: it’s not just the usual KPI (key performance indicators) suspects.

Check out the embedded infographic below or download the high-resolution static version. We’ll look for the next big event to test out this analysis again, and if you have suggestions please let us know.

FinnPartners_2014OscarsSponsors_in_socialmedia

Finn Partners analysis of the social media impact of leading 2014 Academy Awards advertisers.

 

Comments OffSomething New for Your Ears

In 21st century PR, it’s hard to keep up with the news. What with the new social media announcements, industry flip-flops, online evolution, and the two-thousand new services announced every day. The capabilities of your average PR firm are also broadening dramatically. There’s social media strategy, online development, the company blog, community management, blogger relations, search engine optimization. Need I go on?

We’ve been cooking up something new at Finn Partners for the past month. A podcast. Not just a podcast, but the Finncast. It’s our attempt to dissect all of this information in our rapidly evolving industry. Our weekly podcast series is launching today, with a new episode planned every Monday. In each weekly episode we hit on some of the top news items of the week and then discuss one topic in the PR, social or digital space.

Your week-to-week co-hosts will be Alexandra Kirsch and I. And in each episode we will invite on another Finn Partners team member with expertise in the weekly topic to discuss it with us. The topic of discussion in this first week is “Who Should Manage Social Media Advertising?” In it, we are joined by Barry Reicherter, a partner of digital strategy. It’s a great discussion, where we weigh the credentials of marketing agencies, PR agencies and your community manager.

I’m passionate about podcasts and listen to about 15-20 each week, so I’m incredibly appreciative of this opportunity. I hope that passion translates to the enthusiasm we bring to each episode, and the topics we explore. Because ultimately we do this for you, not for us. We want to give you the best PR & digital podcast out there. We want to give you interesting news, knowledgeable insights and great personalities. And we want your feedback to. Tell us what you want us to discuss. Or even if you have questions for us, we’ll answer them on future shows.

You can find our podcast on iTunes, just search for Finncast, and subscribe to have each episode delivered right to you. You can also subscribe to our Podcast feed on Feedburner. Or if you just want to listen to the MP3 for our first episode you can do that as well.

I hope your ears enjoy what we’ve made here. I know we’re excited.

 

Comments OffStorify as a Social Curation Tool

Social curation is an emerging trend in the social space. Tools like Storify allow users to crowd-source through public social postings — either during events, or on a daily basis — and allow you to publish those posts, formatted to flow like a story.

This takes storytelling to a whole new level with user generated content versus brand-owned content.

Common uses of Storify include:

  • Collecting and recaping tweets during Twitter Chats
  • Documenting live events as they happen, like the recent fires on the New Jersey Shore boardwalk, or the tragic events at the Washington Navy Yard
  • Collecting responses to announcements
  • Collecting news stories from various outlets
  • Showcasing speaker quotes from conferences

Just like the platforms it pulls from, Storify is not without engagement features. In fact, stories can also be liked, commented on and embedded, encouraging sharing and open dialogue.

Storify co-founder Burt Herman, said, “People have used it to capture mentions about their products. People also use it to push things out there—to say, ‘Hey, tell us what you think about this, use this hashtag, we’ll use your best responses, and put them online.”

Watch Storify in action with the following examples:

-       Fire Blazes Through Seaside Park, N.J. Boardwalk via The Weather Channel

-       Twitter Files for IPO via CNBC

-       Trending Topics + News via Dieste

-       #INBOUND13 by Valentina Falcinelli

Storify allows users to search public updates across platforms, including Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, Google+, YouTube, Flickr. Once you’ve decided which tweets to pull and showcase, you can add context by adding in your own commentary to guide the story. Even The White House uses Storify as a behind-the-scenes tool, and as a way to social disseminate information.

We tend to rest easy knowing that almost everything published in cyberspace lives there for eternity, but in case that’s not comforting enough, you can export stories as PDFs for archival.

I’m excited to see how Storify grows, and how it impacts the way people collect and share social experiences.

Have a great Storify case study, or know of a brand who uses it especially well? Share it with us in a comment, or via Twitter (@FinnPartners)!

 

14.5 Ways Social Media Compares to Romantic Relationships

Most of us by now have experienced a romantic relationship (or two, or three) – the butterflies, new experiences, the “firsts” and the inevitable heartbreak. Which oddly enough, the more I think about it, the more I’m reminded of social media. Let me explain:

  1. The “introduction” stage: When you first set your eyes on “that” guy/girl, you can’t wait to get acquainted, and learn more about them. Now let’s say a hot new platform is about to be released in beta. You know you’re signing up to be on the mailing list, hoping for one of the first invites or begging your friends who have access to “introduce” you to this new hottie. Oh, hey there, Pinterest!
  2. The “honeymoon” stage: Everything is going better than a Disney fairytale with your newfound arm candy. You count the hours until you can see them, can’t take your thoughts and eyes off of them, and are over the moon with happiness. Doesn’t this sound like your first few months with Facebook? Point made.
  3. The “this takes a lot of work” stage: Relationships require a ton of energy and time to continue growing successfully, as do your social media platforms. Just because you have built your mini follower base and become a “social celeb” of sorts does not guarantee you will stay there if you don’t continue putting in work. Your Twitter followers will drop you like a fly and your Facebook friends will start wondering why they even have you on their list. In other words, stop making an effort and your “relationship” will come crumbling down. Hello there, Xanga.
  4. The “it’s not you, it’s me” stage:As the decline of a relationship rears its ugly head, the “it’s not you, it’s me” line might be used. Whether you’re the one using the line or on the receiving end, it takes a lot to admit the relationship is no longer working. Social media works very much in the same manner. We outgrow people very quickly, what makes us think we’re not going to get sick of Facebook or Twitter or Pinterest or #insertnameofanothersocialmediachannel? (Hey – remember MySpace? Me neither!)
    1. The “I have no idea why he/she broke up with me” stage: In contrast to the above stage, you might get your heart broken without a “good enough” reason or explanation. It’s best just to acknowledge the loss, pick up the pieces and know that you will someday find someone who makes you happy. Another company acquires your favorite social network and changes all the features you loved without asking? Admit it will no longer make you happy and move on. You will find your happiness eventually, I promise.
 

Comments OffSocial Media Week in Review

iPhone users are celebrating the latest update to the Facebook app (Photo courtesy of mashable.com)

There was some shady business in the world of Facebook and Twitter this week. Read on to learn more.

Twitter Restricts Access to API – Moving Onto Entertainment?  In a move to possibly take complete control over the information shared in its network, Twitter has yanked Tumblr’s access to its API – meaning the “Find Twitter Friends” capability will no longer be available. Twitter has been cracking down on making the network’s information more private and now they are turning their backs on Tumblr, a service that until now has been a team player with the social network and even helped them build “Twitter cards”.

Cutting off third-party developers and its recent deals with new partnerships such as NBC and the 2012 Summer Olympics, leads one to believe Twitter may have a change of heart on what they define as a successful social network.

Facebook Investor Dumps Stocks 

Peter Thiel, Facebook’s first outside investor and board member confirmed he had sold about 20 million shares of Facebook last week. While Thiel still owns about 5.6 million shares, what does this say about the already poorly performing Facebook stock? 

iOS App Gets Highly Anticipated Update

iPhone users are celebrating the latest update to the Facebook app, which totes a faster news feed, instant access to notifications, faster photo uploads and access to the Camera and Messenger apps all in one place. Facebook has combined the codes for the three apps into one, allowing the iOS apps to be closer to the online Facebook experience. The Android update of the app is most likely in the works.

 

Comments OffSocial Media Week in Review

Read on for the latest in social media news:

Twitter

Twitter released details of an upcoming API that has many developers up in arms. The new API will introduce a number of new “Developer Rules of the Road” meant to create a consistent and seamless Twitter experience. Twitter will also be tightening their grip on third-party clients like Echofon, Tweetbot, Ubersocial and TweetDeck by imposing a 100,000 user cap on third-party clients. Third-party clients with a user base over 100,000 will only be able to grow to 200% of their current user base before requiring permission from Twitter to grow any further.

Developers are bemoaning the new restrictions, with many predicting the end of popular third-party clients like Echofon and TweetDeck. For other developers this is no surprise. Twitter has been encouraging developers to stay away from developing traditional Twitter clients for over a year.

Also introduced in the new API are safeguards to make applications safer for users to use. Authentication is now required whenever an application attempts to access the Twitter API. Requiring authentication makes it easier for Twitter to allow the well-intentioned access to the API while keeping the bad guys out.

Facebook

Since 2009, a user deleting a photo on Facebook often meant a year delay before the photo would be deleted from Facebook servers. What’s the problem with that? Well, a photo that still exists on a Facebook server can be accessed via URL regardless of whether or not you’ve pressed the delete button. That’s changed this week, with Facebook now clearing deleted photos from its servers in up to 30 days.

Surprisingly, this is not an issue that Facebook shares with its competitors. Ars Technica found that deleting a photo from social sites like Flickr, Twitter or Instagram yielded instantaneous deletion from the sites’ servers.

As Facebook stock continues on its downward trend, investors will likely be keeping tabs on Facebook’s ability to respond to users’ privacy concerns. Allegiance to a social site can change in a blink of an eye and building loyalty with users will go a long way in securing Facebook’s dominance in social media.

Fake Social Accounts

Democrats were up in arms this week when Mitt Romney’s Twitter account experienced a mysterious influx of 141,000 followers in one day. Democrats claim that the Romney campaign bought the followers, citing results from a new utility, StatusPeople.com, which scans your Twitter account and determines how many followers are active, inactive, or fake. The Romney campaign denied the allegation and Republicans volleyed back that President Obama’s Twitter account has even more fake followers than Romney’s. StatusPeople.com concluded that of Obama’s 18.6 million followers, 41% are fake.

Fake Twitter accounts have become increasingly common with the creation of services that sell followers to Twitter users. Fake followers can be had for as little as $2 per 1,000 followers. These fake accounts are against Twitter’s terms of service, but Twitter is having a difficult time policing fake accounts.

 

Comments OffSocial Media Week in Review

This week in social media the Olympics are heating up, Twitter is getting political and Facebook flounders to stay afloat. Read on for more!

Twitter

Twitter debuts tweet-based supplement to polling

A new generation, a new way for your voice to be heard! This week Twitter debuted Twitter Political Index, the newest tool for keeping an eye on public feelings toward President Obama and presidential nominees. Currently, the tool is sorting through Twitter’s 400 million tweets a day to analyze messages regarding Barack Obama and Mitt Romney.

Olympics: Twitter’s huge, varied impact

Watch what you tweet! “Words are like eggs dropped from great heights; you can no more call them back than ignore the mess they leave when they fall.” – Jodi Picoult. If only more people would adhere to these powerful words. Social media has been taken to new heights within the past few years, giving the world quicker access to celebrities, athletes, major corporations and more. It is certainly taking a major role in the London 2012 Olympics where Twitter has played a part in people voicing their outrage against NBC and athletes have been thrown off their teams for tweeting inappropriate things.

Facebook

Facebook shares first time below $20

For the first time this past Thursday, Facebook shares have dipped below $20. It has lost half of its value since its premiere in May 2012. Many people are waiting for the stock to maintain a steady rate or even have the slightest inklings of growth for the third quarter. What do you think could happen when the shares become tradable in November?

Facebook rolling Timeline to all soon, launches new photo feature

Change is inevitable. For those who wanted to cling to distant memories of the “old Facebook”, they will be forced to conform to the new Timeline by the end of the year. The forced migration is happening because Facebook is launching a redesigned section for Photos on Timeline to allow users to highlight their favorite pictures.

Foursquare

Foursquare Launches Promoted Updates, Its Newest Effort To Generate Revenue

Foursquare launched their latest effort to generate revenue, promoted updates. Promoted updates will operate like Twitter’s promoted tweets and will appear when a user is searching for a venue in Foursquare’s explore tab.

 

Comments OffSocial Media Week in Review

This week has been all about Olympic madness sweeping the world. The online community seemed to do nothing but eat, sleep and tweet about the 2012 London Olympics starting today. Check out what else has been happening in the world of social media (with a little Olympics news thrown in). Enjoy!

Facebook

Facebook Stock Hits New Low

Facebook may have beat the Street’s estimates for its second quarter, but investors were expecting more from the social giant’s stock valuation for its revenues and earnings. If you feel like you need a little more insight, find out why Facebook’s stock is tanking.

Facebook Launches Recommendation Bar

Facebook is looking for more and more ways to integrate themselves into our daily lives. Their latest quest for our attention is a recommendation bar that allows users to discover new articles based on what others in their network are sharing. When a Facebook user likes an article through the new recommendation bar, the story is published to the Timeline much like the use of the Like button.

Twitter

Twitter May Launch Reality TV Shows

Twitter is reportedly talking to Hollywood producers and networks about launching several reality TV shows that would stream on the site. Real Housewives of Twitter anyone?

Foursquare

Foursquare Introduces Promoted Updates

Earlier this week Foursquare launched the pilot for a brand new advertising program called Promoted Updates. The ads will show up in the app’s Explore tab, which shows users nearby places and friends. The program has rolled out with 23 partners including Best Buy and Gap.

Social Media Blunders

Chick-Fil-A Accused of Setting Up a Fake Facebook Account

If openly coming out and saying your company is against gay marriage wasn’t enough, now Chick-Fil-A has been accused of setting up a fake Facebook account. This accusation came after Jim Henson pulled their kids meal toys from the fast food chain. Chick-Fil-A lied and said the toys had been pulled because of a safety issue. Now they are in hot water over a fake Facebook account that has been defending the chicken retailer online. Where will it end? Nobody knows.

Olympian Booted From Team Over Racist Tweet

Triple jumper Voula Papachristou’s dreams of competing in the Olympics have been dashed after she tweeted a racist statement about African immigrants. After her attempt at a joke went viral, she was expelled from Greece’s Olympic team. She has since tweeted numerous apologies on Twitter.

General

How to Follow the 2012 Olympics Online

The excitement is palpable around the world for the 2012 London Olympics. Social media is sure to play a bigger role than ever in the Olympics this year, which is why Mashable has compiled 10 ways to follow the Olympics online.