Category Archives: Blog

The official Vocanic blog

Hands on with Periscope

Within 4 months, Periscope has surpassed 10 million accounts. Twitter’s live video streaming acquisition seems to be sustaining a fair amount of community growth and tech journalism attention. That has attracted the folks in adland, and the eyes of early adopter marketers, who are now scrambling to assess how to leverage this new audience in a fresh paradigm of live video sharing.

Before diving into the question of how and whether your brand should be using Periscope, let’s take a quick look at the current app user experience. The app has been changing quite a bit: according to Periscope’s latest Medium post, the product team’s focus has been on notifications and enhancing the Global Feed experience, where users can find live streaming options by exploring a global map. There are now featured users in the People section, and broadcasts are currently stored and viewable in the user’s profile for a period of time after the broadcast. Users can follow their Twitter friends who are also Periscope users, but there still isn’t a way to follow Facebook friends or Periscope app users from a contact list. Lastly, the broadcasts can now be viewed in a desktop browser, without the need to forcefully download the app.

In short, the app is robust and well designed, but still changing at fast pace. The major hurdles in the user experience are actually on the cellular network side. Data is still expensive in most countries, and network speeds are not constant. Users in locations with advanced 4G networks — but high concentration of tall buildings — face problems in their broadcasts. Video broadcasting is the juggernaut of data consumption, and that has a big effect on most mobile users in developing markets.

Source : Mashable

Source : Mashable

With the app experience still evolving, and network issues still playing an important role, there’s still a bit of time for most brands to consider using Periscope. We see a low hanging fruit opportunity for brands that currently rely on events as part of their marketing mix. Periscope is a quick and easy way to increase ROI in the investments already done in putting these events together. Media and journalism brands are also natural fits. The government sector might be one of the best opportunities of them all.

It is important to highlight that brands with a healthy number of Twitter followers have a start advantage on Periscope. Without in-built connectors to other social networks, Periscope broadcasts are usually found organically on Twitter feeds, and via push notifications.

In summary, have your marketing team download and explore the app. Invite your extended PR and agency team to do the same. Consider using Periscope for internal content sessions (private broadcasts are possible). Provision for free and fast wifi coverage during your brand events, in order to incentivize the use of Periscope. Start following a few featured users, and keep an eye on what type of content they are highlighting. The interesting use cases for Periscope are still being defined, and there hasn’t been any outstanding brand use cases yet. You still might be the first one.

New Senior Appointments for Vocanic’s Regional Management

Social media marketing firm, Vocanic, announced the appointment of Vivienne Maguire as General Manager, Malaysia  and Shane Crombie as Country Head, Indonesia for its growing regional business.

Vivienne Maguire

Vivienne Maguire

Vivienne Maguire moves to the newly created role of General Manager of Vocanic Malaysia. Viv brings with her a wealth of digital marketing experience. She has worked with multinational clients across Asia, Europe and the Middle East, including HSBC, Coca Cola, Renault, Philip Morris, Samsung. She has successfully launched and developed the digital marketing divisions of global advertising and media agencies and independent web development agencies. Her success has been awarded and recognized by the industry where she won the DMA Award for Best Start Up and Independent Grand Prix Award. On her new role, Viv said, “I was attracted by Vocanic’s exceptional credentials as the leading Social Media Agency in the Asian region, combine this with one of the world’s largest media groups, GroupM, and the opportunities for clients are exceptional. I would like to continue to build on the amazing success of Vocanic in the region and look to do this by further developing our offering across Social Media including data analytics, content and strategic services.”

Shane Crombie joins Vocanic from sister GroupM agency MediaCom, China where he functioned as national head of digital.

Shane Crombie

Shane Crombie

Shane has 20 years of digital media experience and has also held leadership positions in Los Angeles, New York, Sydney, Shanghai and Beijing with some of the world’s leading media and creative agencies. “Earned media is not a mystical unicorn anymore, content marketing has evolved from a “good to have” to a “must have”. It is the new frontier for media ROI.” said Shane when asked what attracted him to the social media business. Commenting on his new team, Shane said, “We have an outstanding group in Indonesia who do amazing work. Social never sleeps and neither does my team.”

Ian McKee, Chief Executive Officer, Vocanic said, “We are delighted to welcome Viv and Shane to the Vocanic family. Viv and Shane have a deep understanding of the social and digital marketing eco system. With the appointment of these two very experienced and accomplished digital professionals, we are further building the management bench strength for Vocanic. Both Viv and Shane will be very valuable as we accelerate our APAC expansion plans.”

Vocanic continues hiring with the third announcement this year. Vocanic has offices in Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand and Sri Lanka.

Vocanic and StarHub win at the Loyalty & Engagement Awards 2015

Vocanic Pte Ltd. and StarHub bagged an award at the Loyalty & Engagement Awards 2015 for the exemplary work done in the category ‘Best Use of Social’.

Vocanic CEO Ian Mckee and Account Director Tina Jasmine Kaur at the Award Ceremony.

Vocanic CEO Ian Mckee and Account Director Tina Jasmine Kaur at the Award Ceremony.

“It is harder for brands to shine on social media as many users generate content of their own. That is why when we introduced StarHub Community in 2012, we constantly pushed the social media envelope to engage our audiences through crowd support, crowdsourcing, co-creation and collaboration. We are heartened that, today, our efforts have been recognised. We thank our advocates and Vocanic, our agency for making this award possible”, said Darren Choo, AVP, Social CRM at StarHub

This is the third time in a row that Vocanic and StarHub have been recognized by Marketing Magazine, having won awards for Best Use of Brand Advocacy and Best Use of Social. Vocanic’s work for StarHub was also recently recognized at the Lithys where StarHub Community won the Social ROI Titan award amongst 400 global communities.

Another client of Vocanic, Nikon was a finalist in the ‘Best Use of Games/ Contests/ Quizzes’ category. Commenting on their relationship with Vocanic, Sunny Ng, Senior Sales and Marketing Manager, Nikon said, “At Nikon, we understand that a group of highly engaged audience is the key to a brand’s social success. We challenged our social media partner, Vocanic, to come up with a campaign that will continue to build lasting relationships with our strong community of photographers. What we got was a strategy that provided a strong, measurable brand engagement through creative design and development, earned and paid distribution, and real-time analytics.”

Every year, the awards recognize elevating marketing standards and practices in the region to focus on customer loyalty and engagement.  The award is given for cutting edge work done in the field of social media and judged by an esteemed panel of judges comprising client-side marketers and loyalty experts.

 

Facebook’s ‘See First’ : What should brands do?

Facebook now has 936 million daily active users (source : Facebook). More brands sign up for Facebook Pages on a daily basis to reach out to potential users. This essentially means that there is increased competition, decreased organic reach and limited space on the News Feed.

The social network has always stressed on the importance of displaying stories that matter to the users and this has predominantly been the guiding principle of all News Feed related updates. Until now, Facebook relied on its secret algorithm (a.k.a. Ranking) to construe what should be shown to the users. But it is now putting the power in the hands of its users by simply making them in charge of what drives majority of their time online.

In the United States, Facebook is rolling out a way to choose friends and Pages you want to “See First” and putting their content atop your news feed.  The upgraded settings section will display who’s shown most in your feed and if you want, let you unfollow them. It will also make it easy to refollow people you’ve hidden and discover Pages based on your interests.

source : Facebook

source : Facebook

Assuming that Facebook puts emphasis on this feature, make it an obvious button that doesn’t require digging, it may be used. And if it is used, this might provide hope for brands who were severely hit by the declining reach of their page.

It will be imperative for them to continue posting creative and relevant content so they are put above on audiences’ News Feed. We should expect brands who invested in acquiring “likes” to come up with campaigns to be added to your preferred list. The brands with the best strategy to convince fans to add them to the chosen list will stay ahead in the game.

This feature also acts as a reminder that Facebook organic reach is practically dead. Unless, brands pump significant social media ad budget into their marketing efforts, their content will not reach the target audience. If you’re relying solely on organic efforts, you are not maximizing your efforts.

The attention span of a modern internet consumer is very limited. The current generation is used to instant gratification and quick fixes. Just like companies have spent on resources for SEO to improve their ranking on the Google search page, we need socially devoted brands to focus on tactics to appear at the top of the most valuable real estate in the social media universe.

Will your brand make the cut?

 

Are we killing another golden goose?

Facebook Inc. owns Facebook, Instagram and Whatsapp. The total number of monthly active users they can reach is a mind blowing 2.24 billion!  !  (source :  Facebook, TechCrunch and Instagram )

The Facebook ecosystem is now the most important marketing space for you and your brands. Unfortunately, most brands are not giving this area enough attention and budget.

Facebook’s  strategy was simple and elegant. Build functionality that users find compelling. Get a billion of them.  Evolve a symbiotic relationship with brands. Give them free space ( the Fan Page) and free media (the Newsfeed). Smart brands jumped on the opportunity and built large communities of fans.

Through dialogue, brands increased loyalty. They implemented business initiatives such as Social Loyalty, Social CRM and Social Customer Support. StarHub for example pioneered this in Singapore. Brands developed content strategies to exploit the free ride to reach their audiencegoose

Like all innovations, things evolved. Brands killed the golden goose! Majority of brands pumped either below average content or regurgitated ATL material. Users perceived this content to be irrelevant. Facebook changed their algorithm leading to lower organic reach for non-engaging content. If we had a dollar for every time we were asked to post a TVC on Facebook, we’d be very rich indeed!

This is just a rerun of the last incarnation of Content Marketing. We knew it then as ‘email marketing’ and the ‘e-Newsletter’. Back in the days, consumers jumped into email as the new revolution. Brands built email databases and blasted marketing material to serve their own agenda. It got so bad that media providers like YahooMail, Hotmail, Gmail invested in technology to protect their users. This led to the birth of SPAM filters and the Junk Mail button.

People around the world are now spending more time online (smartphone + tablet + laptop) than watching TV. This has led to marketers shifting their attention to digital. We are in an era where this is the new mass media. Millions are spent on interrupting people on the internet. There’s banners, pop-ups, site take overs, pre-role video etc.  The mindless intrusion of unconnected ads has led to the growing threat from Ad blocking technology. Ad blocking technology is now reaching 10% (source : AdAge) .  10% may not seem much, but the rate of adoption is accelerating. This is often seen as the tipping point to mass adoption. Ad blocking usage has reached the point where the upcoming release of Safari on the iPhone will allow you to block an ad on mobile too. On the way the browser providers will make ad-blocking even easier for the layman.

As an industry, we have a history of abusing marketing platforms and consumer trust. Brands forget that the marketing world has advanced. It is now permission based unlike Radio, TV & Print. Audiences can choose to block them when they feel frustrated with constant endorsements. Marketers from an ATL only background are finding it hard to make the transition. So where does that leave brands?

Back to where some of them originally started. Refocus on delivering an experience that is good enough to earn a recommendation.  Create content and interactions that generate value for the audience. Become consumer centric and join the consumer’s conversation. And of course – never try to force your agenda on them.

Switch Your Sessions to Redis (Without Downtime)

By default PHP’s session management is to store them in temporary files on the file system. This doesn’t scale up if you are developing a web application to run on multiple machines. You could set up your load balancer to have sticky sessions – where a session is associated to a machine – but the major drawback here is to have sessions become “bad” when that machine is out of rotation – primarily due to an error.

The typical solution, then, is to store the PHP sessions in Database, or some such store. We, at Vocanic, started off by storing the sessions in MySQL, but then as our traffic went up, scaling that instance of MySQL became a headache and so we replaced it with a MySQL+Memcache solution, which was good enough for quite a while.

Recently, we saw a bigger problem – MySQL tends to be blocking if you are doing edits, and if the MySQL instance is shared between Sessions and any other data, then any major edit operation on the other databases also slows down the Sessions code and eventually blocks all the users out – since Sessions is the first module that needs to be loaded up for all of this to work.

So, we wanted to a non-blocking, fast, scalable store for our session management. These days, I am personally going through a Redis-Admiration phase and hence I decided to migrate this code to use Redis.

(Src: http://rethinkdb.com/blog/thanks-redis/)

The pseudo code for this is something like this:

class RedisSessionHandler implements SessionHandlerInterface {

public function open($save_path, $name) {
// Set up your Redis Connection
}

public function close() {
/* */
return true;
}

public function read($id) {
// GET '$id' // unserialize and return
}

public function write($id, $data) {
$wrapper = new stdClass();
$wrapper->id = $id;
$wrapper->access = time();
$wrapper->data = $data;
// SET '$id' serialize($wrapper);
// ZADD 'ALL_SESSIONS' $wrapper->access, $id
}

public function destroy($id) {
// DEL '$id'
// ZREM 'ALL_SESSIONS' $id
}

public function gc($maxlifetime) {
$old = time() - $maxlifetime;
// $keys = ZRANGEBYSCORE 'ALL_SESSIONS', 0, '($old'
foreach($keys as $id) {
$this->destroy($id);
}
}
}

$sessionDataHandler = new RedisSessionHandler();
session_set_save_handler($sessionDataHandler, true);

// Send any headers you want to

// Rest of the code

While this will just work for a new application, we wanted to ensure that your current sessions are migrated – so we wrote a compound session handler that wrote to both old session handler and the new session handler and compared the read results to ensure that we weren’t seeing anything inconsistent.

Once we ran it for a few cycles of “$maxlifetime” – ours was set at 1440 seconds, we were sure that the new handler was working as expected. Once that happened, we replaced it with code that was just the Redis Handler and we had the entire system shift to Redis.

At the moment, my nascent profiling is showing me that we are saving somewhere close to about 30ms savings in page views that uses Sessions.