Social Circles: This Week in Social Media (Nov. 10, 2014)

Each week, Social Circles brings you the biggest news from behind the social networks. Keep up to date with the latest trends, breaking news, and expert analysis from across the web.

This week’s wrap-up includes increased government requests through Facebook, increased focuses and outputs from brand engagement on social visual content, a LinkedIn lawsuit, and Facebook’s fundraising effort to fight Ebola.

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Social Circles: This Week in Social Media (Nov. 3, 2014)

Each week, Social Circles brings you the biggest news from behind the social networks. Keep up to date with the latest trends, breaking news, and expert analysis from across the web.

This week’s wrap-up includes Facebook’s new anonymous capabilities, a Tinder for partying, and Instagram’s community guidelines under scrutiny.

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Zombie Pranks Halloween Scary Advertising

Do Scares Equal Sales? Prankvertising’s Best Moments

What would your first reaction be if a company, trying to sell you a product, decided to scare you out of your wits? Maybe you’d fire off an angry e-mail, complain about it on Twitter, or simply avoid that company like the plague, right?

Well, what about if the company decided to scare someone else for your enjoyment? You don’t have to provide an answer to that one, because the public has already spoken.

Last week, Ford got into the Halloween spirit by finding 30 strangers, asking if they’d participate in a filmed test drive, and then instructing them to go through a specific car wash on the way to the shoot. The car wash just so happened to be set up as a comfortable home for zombies and demons, sending the oblivious reviewers into a screaming frenzy. Check out the video here:

The ad has already racked up over a million views on YouTube and was celebrated as AdWeek’s “Ad of the Day”.

There was none of the cliche car ad elements: no winding hills, no babies for the car’s intelligent braking systems to protect, no price comparison to competitors.

As Brook Johnston, a copywriter at Toronto’s brand agency FUSE Marketing Group, said, “The Ford stunt is fun. But what does it say about the brand or the specific vehicle? You don’t always need a direct tie, but it helps. A much better example was LG’s “Meteor” prank [linked here] because it paid off on the brand’s promise: screens so clear, you’ll think it’s real life. There’s connective tissue there. It makes sense.”

“That being said, it does take some cajones to freak people out courtesy of your brand,” Johnston says in an e-mail. “A lot of clients are way too terrified (of both the logistics and legalities) to actually try and bring one of these ideas to life. So you have to give them kudos for being brave enough to do it – if they do it well, that is.”

Ford stands out as a shining example of doing it well, and was successful in producing viral content under the banner of a mega-corporation, something often sought after but rarely executed.

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Social Circles: This Week in Social Media (October 27, 2014)

Each week, Social Circles brings you the biggest news from behind the social networks. Keep up to date with the latest trends, breaking news, and expert analysis from across the web.

This week’s wrap-up includes the web’s newest platform which promises to pay users, updated privacy measures for Canadian military personnel, and Facebook’s new app which takes mobile users back to the days of chat rooms.

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Social Circles: This Week in Social Media (Oct. 19, 2014)

As part of a new segment, I’ve compiled the must-read social media stories from around the web in one simple list.

This week features another enormous photo hack, Twitter further mimicking Facebook, and asks whether Ello is already a thing of the past. Without further ado, here’s the top 5:

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Carleton’s Anniversary Hashtag Gets a Makeover

Launching a hashtag to promote your brand often provides great potential to expand your reach, connect with fans, and use the power of the masses to help build up reputation. But as Ottawa’s Carleton University found out today, it also provides rife opportunity for subversion.

The school launched a new public awareness campaign this morning to celebrate its 75th anniversary, that follows the theme “Distinctly Carleton.”

As part of the launch, Carleton revealed a new website (as well as a special campaign page) and unveiled massive portraits of famous alumni like former Prime Minister Lester B. Pearson, writer Lynn Coady, journalist Nahlah Ayed, and Ravens basketball star Philip Scrubb, among others.

Part of the launch also included a hashtag campaign.

It didn’t take long for students and faculty to give the hashtag an entirely different meaning.

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Toronto Sees Surge in Campaigning on Reddit

As Toronto’s municipal election heats up, candidates for mayor and council alike are experimenting with the potential of reddit to deliver their campaign platforms and messages to an engaged audience online. For the 48,000+ subscribers to the city’s subreddit, it’s been a busy month.

External photo Nathan Phillips square

Flickr/Steven Severinghaus
Toronto’s City Hall illuminated at night. With the election campaign in full swing, many mayoral candidates have taken to reddit.

But what is the point of logging on to this specific community to take questions and deliver campaign lines? What benefits does it afford, and what are the risks associated? I’ve briefly talked about this before, and while this is still far from a complete discussion, it will hopefully offer an introduction to the political AMA on reddit.

Roberto Alvarez got the ball rolling on August 6, when the nominee for councillor of Ward 3 took to the site to answer questions. It wasn’t huge, garnering only 34 comments (which includes his responses) and 64 upvotes. That said, Alvarez spoke oienly and honestly, fielding questions about Rob Ford and the relationship between Homer and Flanders from The Simpsons with ease. More Importantly, he didn’t shy away from tough questions.

By all accounts, it was a good use of campaign time and efforts.

Paul Alves came next. And it was bad. Alves, running to become councillor for Ward 18, went off the rails and the AMA descended into a horrific train crash. After being confronted by one user for using Rob Ford-type tactics, and then being called a Ford apologist by another user, Alves went on the offensive. He accused a user of being a plant for another candidate’s campaign, before saying,

People think the internet is a free for all, it isn’t. I’ll gladly retain counsel and sue for slander anyone who claims I’m what i am not.

From there, things degenerated. Taking on his threat to identify users’ IP addresses and deal with them legally, users began coming up with far-fetched and obvious lies about the candidate (one calling him a Satanist) while others offered definitions and legal interpretations of slander and defamation laws in Canada.

As one user plainly stated: “Threatening to sue voters is an interesting campaign strategy.” Perhaps shockingly, Alves deleted his first account and came back to the site with another new name and has seemed to buy in to the community. He apologized for his outburst, and has since been an active commenter on the Toronto subreddit, as well as another dedicated to British television show Dr. Who.

And so, there are the two directions a political AMA like this can go. Depending on how well you connect with the users, and really how well you fit into reddit’s culture, can make or break it. A negative impression early on can bury you.

Making this case study of the Toronto election even more interesting is the active outreach that moderators of the subreddit undertook to reach out to all mayoral candidates. So far, Ari Goldkind, Mark Cidade, Olivia Chow, and Morgan Baskin have answered the call.

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