Laura Bedrossian, Peppercomm

My name is Laura and I’m a Foursquare addict.

Yes, I’ll admit it—I love Foursquare. I want to be “The Mayor” of all of my favorite spots (including the Peppercomm office, which is currently under an intense mayorship war). I love all of the different badges you can earn. While I don’t usually get addicted to these types of things, the gamification of how many times I go to the laundromat or the gym is so appealing and makes my boring day-to-day errands much more fun.

I know I’m not alone in my addiction. I see my coworkers and non-industry friends with smart phones doing the exact same thing. Some are also addicted to checking in on Facebook, tweeting exactly what comes in their heads (all the time) or instagramming everything from the chili they just cooked to a dead bird they saw on the side of the street.

But where does one draw the line?

When out with a client, I was at a new restaurant in a state I’ve never visited. I was excited to check-in and see if I would get a new badge. After being seated, I went to whip out my phone, but then remembered one big thing: common courtesy and table manners (OK, those are two big things). I always apologize if I receive a text or phone call when at dinner. So is it really appropriate to check-in all the time? No, it can be perceived as rudeness.

We’re at a point where we’re seemingly always connected via text, email and social media. That doesn’t seem necessary.  In fact, if you’re checking all of these different communication channels, it could indicate to the other person that there is something more interesting in the social spheres than with the person you’re with. I think we can all have dinner or meet with friends/family without checking our phones for an hour or so.

Fight the addiction and don’t be a phone-checking maniac. If all else fails, you can try the phone stack challenge, but really, is it so hard to mind your table manners?

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By Sam Ford, PepperDigital (originally for Fast Company)

A few years back, a client came to my agency with a desire to show its “thought leadership” online. A key executive there was a credible source on healthy living, and the company wanted to find ways for him to share his expertise online.

We considered the question from the audience’s eyes, thinking about the company’s content in relation to other online communities and destinations online focused on the same subject, and considering as a goal seeing audiences sharing and engaging with our client’s material in those various destinations.

The company would hear none of this way of thinking. Why, they asked, would they want to pay any mind to discussions about healthy living elsewhere? Wouldn’t dispersed engagement be harder to measure and dilute focus on their expert? No, we needed to launch a corporate blog.

The disconnect between my agency and our client stemmed from contrasting mindsets. The company operated via stickiness, while we were focused on spreadability–a distinction my co-authors and I examine in our new book, Spreadable Media. With stickiness, success is determined by how many individuals come to a centralized location via a uniform experience and how long they spend there. Sound familiar? It should. It’s an attempt to recreate the “impressions” model of traditional media industries.

Meanwhile, spreadability focuses on how content moves through communities and exists at multiple points of contact, with an emphasis on a diversity of audience experiences. Publishers focused on spreadability seek to motivate sharing and encourage audiences to actively engage with content on their own terms.

No matter what we said, the company couldn’t be convinced. Their resulting blog didn’t connect to discussions about healthy living elsewhere–because their system of measurement placed no value on such connections. As a result, the blog today sits like so many other online ghost towns, without an update in more than three years.

Despite gains made in being able to listen to how content travels online, the stickiness model still dominates. For media companies or e-commerce sites that build their business off visits to their site, the focus on stickiness makes some degree of sense. However, even if a stickiness mindset has its place, its dominance has been too strong and has distorted the nature of online communication to conform to what’s easiest for the publisher to measure and what most resembles how distribution worked in a pre-digital era, rather than what audiences find most useful. It’s especially unfortunate that marketers, non-profits, educational institutions, and others that aren’t primarily trying to “monetize” a particular destination have nevertheless largely adopted stickiness as their core logic for success.

Building new models that align measurement with the ways in which audiences want to engage with and share content is crucial for companies to shift the way they think about content circulation, and success, in a digital age. In short, companies not actively seeking to figure out how to value how content spreads in their measurement models risk their brands as a whole eventually becoming ghost towns as well.

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By Ali Pearce, PepperDigital

Twitter is at it again. Last Friday, Twitter added fuel to the social media fire by launching Vine. This third-party app allows users to embed six-second video loops in their tweets. Once uploaded, these videos show up directly on your followers’ Twitterfeeds and begin playing immediately after they appear. This eliminates the hassle of transferring back and forth between Twitter and your browser; an annoyance that hinders me from clicking on almost all links shared via Twitter.

In typical Twitter fashion, these six-second videos are short and sweet. Six seconds may not seem long enough to make an impact on the viewer, but then again neither did 140 characters. At an age where distractions are everywhere, six seconds is just long enough to captivate the viewer without lasting too long that they become disengaged. As our attention spans continue to shrink and second-screens become the norm, six seconds is about all of the time that one can dedicate to watching a brand’s new promo video or your friend’s funny dance move. (Because let’s be honest, it’s probably not going to be that funny.)

As Vine’s popularity continues to increase, it will be interesting to see how businesses take advantage of the creative platform. With a little strategic thinking, the possibilities for Vine are endless. In a matter of seconds, businesses can use Vine to make a quick impression or even provide a teaser clip that directs viewers to the company’s website for more information.

With the Super Bowl airing on Sunday, I plan on paying close attention to brand’s usage of Vine. The Super Bowl provides a perfect opportunity to capitalize on Vine’s instant video sharing capabilities. I would be shocked if brands that have developed a reputation for legendary Super Bowl commercials over the years, such as Budweiser and Doritos, don’t take advantage of the “teaser” capabilities that Vine offers. Just one six-second clip of a funny commercial could have viewers anxiously waiting for the full commercial to appear live.

Although we can’t predict how brands will use Vine, one thing for sure is that this won’t be the last that we see of video sharing. Twitter may be on the cutting edge with video now, but if we’ve learned anything from the history of social media, it’s that something better is right around the corner. Let the battle continue.

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