Getting a Glimpse into North Korea

February 28, 2013 Add Comment Monica Watson

We often take for granted the ability to connect instantly and freely through the Internet, but this is a fairly radical notion in some parts of the world. It was just a few weeks ago that North Korea lifted the ban on mobile devices for foreigners, and now the real-time photos are slowly trickling in on Instagram.

“North Korean commuters pass by propaganda posters in #Pyongyang,” by David Guttenfelder.

The ability to tell stories in real-time is powerful. During the Egyptian protests, much of the news came from first-hand Tweets, Facebook posts, and videos on Youtube. These platforms are not only changing the way we communicate socially but are also changing the international relations landscape.

“A pin over the heart of every North Korean citizen,” by David Guttenfelder.

David Guttenfelder, Associated Press chief photographer for Asia, and Jean Lee, AP Korea bureau chief, are two of the first people to post real-time Instagram photos from North Korea. The images allow us to experience moments of every day life in the country – from ice skating with friends to the propaganda lining the streets.

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“평양랭면 #Pyongyang noodles,” by Jean Lee

The ability to get a glimpse into a country shrouded in secrecy is fascinating. It makes us realize that the people of North Korea are not so different from us. They enjoy playing pool, singing karaoke, and also have to deal with a morning commute. We’re seeing that the people in countries who once seemed so foreign, so separate from our own identities, are really not so different. The ability to see real-time moments from all around the world is breaking down international barriers. The idea of an “us” and a “them” is slowly losing its hold in this increasingly connected world. That’s the power of the visual revolution.

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Front Lines of the Visual Revolution

February 27, 2013 Add Comment Monica Watson

In this week’s Front Lines of the Visual Revolution, we’re featuring a company that’s making powerful tools for mobile photographers and two platforms that are shaking up the e-commerce space.

1. Adobe

Today, we all have in our pocket the technology to create works that in the past would have taken whole teams, rooms, and lots of equipment. And now Adobe’s Photoshop Touch is available for phones – it’s your own pocket darkroom for $4.99.

2. Sephora <3′s Pinterest


Visual sells. Beauty retailer Sephora told Venture Beat that Pinterest is king for e-commerce, while Facebook is good for customer interaction and service. Pinterest‘s visual-focused design encourages purchasing and product discovery – it’s one of the main reasons people go to the site. But the main reason people go to Facebook is to connect with people (and brands). So what does this mean for the Facebook’s goal of being a hub of social commerce?

3. Wanelo

Wanelo‘s success is yet another example of how visual is truly king when it comes to e-commerce. The site is similar to Pinterest but is only for products, and it’s potential is getting noticed by investers – leading to it raising more than $100M during Series A deals of the quarter, TechCrunch reports. Wanelo, whose name stands for Want Need Love, is heading towards being the hub of product discovery – a very powerful tool for brands and retailers.

The question remains though, will Wanelo’s success dampens Pinterest’s potential or vice versa? Sound off in the comments or join the conversation with #VisualRevolution.

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3 Visual Revolution Tips

February 26, 2013 Add Comment Monica Watson

Every Wednesday, we highlight some of the great work brands and publishers are doing in the visual revolution. But how do you join in? Well, we’ve put together 3 tips to make it all clearer.

1. It’s not only about the visual

Design is powerful. It’s what fueled much of Apple’s success and what has lead to Nest reinventing the thermostat. But the visual revolution is about more than just photos and videos. It’s about being social, engaging, and instant. Oreo’s much-lauded blackout Tweet from the Super Bowl combines all of these factors, and it ended up being a massive success.

Furthermore, the visual revolution is user-driven with the content created and inspired by the audience. The emergence of mobile technology and constant internet access is what has lead us to the surge in photography, and now most of the photos being published today comes from amateurs posting on social platforms. Don’t ignore the social aspect.

2. Know your audience

Once you know who your target audience is, get to know them on a more personal level. What do they reblog on Tumblr? What do they Tweet about? Interact with them and get to know them. If you’re just putting out content with no end-user in mind, then you’re just yelling into the void. Give people content or a campaign that enriches their life in some way, evokes an emotion from them, and is useful to them.

For example, look at how Chobani uses their Pinterest. Many of their customers use Chobani to lead a healthier lifestyle, and the yogurt company’s pins reflect that – from photos of healthy food to inspirational quotes.

3. Understand the power of the hashtag

The hashtag is the modern-day water-cooler. It’s the hub for any conversation and interaction, and it can bring a whole new audience to your company if used well. Make sure that when someone clicks or searches your tag it’s easy for them to know it’s about you. This means choosing a unique tag and being active in it. Really own your hashtag and help guide the conversation through interaction.

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A favorite example comes from Celebuzz. Their Chute-powered Lady Gaga photo contest had people using the hashtag #BuzzThisWay to submit photos on social media. This one simple hashtag was able to get across the theme of the campaign and also the Celebuzz brand.

What tips do you think brands and publishers should keep in mind? Join the conversation with #VisualRevolution.

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And the Oscar goes to…

February 25, 2013 Add Comment Monica Watson

The big winner during last night’s Academy Awards was social media. Increased adoption and use meant that the audience got to experience the event first-hand and even get the occasional selfie from Samuel L. Jackson. With celebrities, journalists, tv hosts, and stylists maintaining active online presences, we were able to get an inside look at the exclusive event on an even richer and more intimate level.

Image from @TheAcademy on Instagram

Ever wanted to see the work behind making celebrities like Jennifer Lawrence and Hugh Jackman red carpet ready? Well, now they and their stylists are posting those photos to Twitter and Instagram. Wanted to see the elaborate food the stars are served? Now you can get up close to the caviar stuffed potatoes and truffle mac and cheese thanks to chef Wolfgang Puck. Even see Anne Hathaway moments after receiving her Oscar or the paparazzi milling around a hotel entrance waiting for the perfect photo.

Moments that would only be talked about after the event can be seen and shared as they’re happening. Even if images like this were taken, it would take hours to days before they emerged. Now, they are coming directly from the sources instantly.

Below you can check out some of our favorite photos shared from the event or check out all the photos in the full Chute here.

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The Visual Revolution [INFOGRAPHIC]

February 22, 2013 Add Comment Monica Watson

When it comes to social media, everything is coming up visual. From Twitter’s Vine app to the massive success of Pinterest and Instagram, text is now optional when it comes to storytelling and engagement. Here at Chute, we work with brands and publishers to provide solutions for leveraging the power of visual media. Check out the infographic below to learn more about the revolution, and join the conversation by tagging your tweets and social photos with #VisualRevolution.


19 Reasons You Should Include Visual Content in Your Marketing Data – Hubspot

Cell Phone Activities – Pew Internet

Life on Demand 2012 – Performics US

Photos on Facebook Generate 53% More Likes Than the Average Post [NEW DATA] – HubSpot

How the Smartest Companies Leverage Visual Social Media – Forbes

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Front Lines of the Visual Revolution

February 20, 2013 Add Comment Monica Watson

Is it visual? Is it engaging? Is it designed well? Those are three questions every content creator or marketer needs to ask. The three companies featured in this week’s Front Lines of the Visual Revolution are answering those questions and innovating how social photography and online interactivity can be used.

1. Fashion Week’s Instagram Moment

Photo by KCDWorldWide

For designers trying to spread the word about their products it’s definitely frustrating to see all the photos shared on social media being out of focus. Fashion is a visual artform, and a major part of generating success is getting images of your designs seen by as many people as possible.

That’s where the “Instagram moment” comes in, with designers like Prabal Gurung having models pause midway down the runway for those on the sidelines to snap and share photos on social media. Designers know that the fashion writers, editors, and celebrities sitting along the runway have their own audiences online, meaning that  their work has the potential to be seen by thousands, or even hundreds of thousands, of people outside of the hundred or so actually attending the event.

The Instagram moment shows just how powerful social and visual media have become to businesses. Visual content is the most shared and the most engaging, and fashion industry professionals are utilizing that potential.

2. Unveil

The original Picasso interactive graphic that inspired Unveil

The New York Times‘ is innovating the digital ad space by taking inspiration from their editorial team. The product is called “Unveil,” and allows users to run their cursor over an object to reveal another underneath. It was first used by the Times’ newsroom on an interactive image of a Picasso painting where users could discover another painting underneath, but it is now being tested on a new round of ads for Wisk.

The lesson to pull from this: if you want people to see your ads, make it something worth seeing. Advertising that is useful, fun, and visual holds people’s attention. Newsrooms are constantly innovating new ways to tell stories in more engaging formats, and advertisers are taking note.

3. Vimeo

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We talked earlier this week about Sprite’s innovative use of the Gif, and now Vimeo has purchased Echograph – a gif creation app. Vimeo was quick to deny that this was in response to Twitter’s Vine app, but the trend towards short and shareable video clips is definitely not on the decline.

Vimeo is not new to the visual revolution, considering they’re a video sharing platform. However, their content tends to be on the more professional or artistic side versus what would be typically found on Youtube. It will be interesting to see how and if Echogram will fit into that model.

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The User-Generated News Cycle

February 19, 2013 Add Comment Monica Watson

By Richard Hopkins (Flickr: There was a car) [CC-BY-2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

Every moment is being documented and shared instantly. What does that mean for journalism? Image Source

With shrinking newsrooms, editors are turning to users to create new content, which allows news outlets to cover smaller more local aspects of larger national stories and democratizes the news cycle.

During Nemo, the large snowstorm that hit the East coast recently, NBC launched their Chute-powered Stormgrams website, allowing people to share their own snowstorm experience through photos. Users could go to the page and see how people in each state were affected, turning a national story about the snowstorm into a more local story with any user being able to share their experience. The media has grown into a much more democratic system, with the people being able to decide which questions get asked at presidential debates or having a national media outlet like MSNBC putting out an open call for opinions on the State of the Union.

The media are supposed to serve as a watchdog for the people – breaking stories and keeping those in power in check. It’s a noble effort, but it also gives one group all the control over the national narrative. And now, thanks to the internet and the emergence of user-generated content over the last few years, that has changed. Stories aren’t always broken by news outlets anymore – that power has shifted to social media platforms like Twitter and the people actually experiencing the moment. We all now have the opportunity to steer the national narrative.

News of Osama bin Laden’s death broke on Twitter before the President announced the news.

A large part of the population now carries a camera with them at all times on their phone along with internet access to share it instantly. We are living in a time where the majority of photos ever taken were taken in the last few years. Almost every news event is already being visually documented by amateurs and making international headlines. After a meteor struck Russia, there were videos and photos from a variety of angles, and Syrians were able to document and share videos of violence against pro-democracy demonstrators – sparking international outrage.  Increasingly, the news is coming directly from the sources.

But this doesn’t mean that the gatekeepers or ombudsmen of journalism are no longer relevant. The power of easy documentation and instant sharing is something journalists can tap into, and some already are. And there will always be a need for in-depth, large-scale reporting; for journalists to look at deeper meanings behind the news and to ask officials tough questions that spark national discussion. But now we have a better opportunity to learn from more perspectives and discover different stories that otherwise wouldn’t have been published. The internet doesn’t replace journalism – it complements it and is revolutionizing it.

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Sprite’s Gifs are a Slam Dunk

February 18, 2013 Add Comment Monica Watson

There has been thorough discussion of the gif’s re-emergence, and now brands and publishers are developing new ways to tell stories through the image format. Leading up to and after the 2013 Sprite Slam Dunk competition at the NBA All-Star game, Sprite created a series of illustrated animated gifs and partnered with Chute to display them along with behind the scenes photos from the athletes.

The 2013 #SpriteSlam winning dunk, giffed.

The gif trend, one that has been growing for years now, is part of a larger push towards more visual and compelling media over traditional static text-based content. It’s part of what makes Vine appealing. Above, you can see the gif Sprite made for the winning dunk from the All-Star competition – easily shareable on Tumblr, Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest from The Dunk gif tells an entire story with the where, who, what, how, and when answered in a few seconds. If a picture is worth a thousand words, a gif must be worth a novel.

Publishers and brands are not only encouraging users to create gifs but are now creating their own to increase and steer the online conversation surrounding their content. Sprite’s use is exemplary of what brands and publishers can be creating. They could have just made animated loops from video clips, but instead they made the content of their gifs unique, fun, and innovative. They also made it easy for users to find and share all of their gifs in one Chute at the NBA Dunk page – a vital factor in any sort of online creation.

In the same way that the hashtag has developed from a search tool to a new communication tool, the gif has become its own media format. And just like the hashtag is innovating social communication and commerce, the gif will continue to innovate storytelling.

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A Real-World Visual Revolution

February 15, 2013 Add Comment Monica Watson

Online engagement at live events can be a challenge for event planners. How do you encourage an audience to create online content during an event without losing their attention or excitement? That’s where Chute Live comes in.

As reported in TechCrunch this morning, Chute Live gives you real-time photo aggregation tools that can be displayed live – turning your online engagement campaign into another level of entertainment for the audience. All people need to do to add photos to your Chute is snap a photo and share it on Twitter or Instagram with your unique hashtag. This expands your audience to all the friends and followers of each person who posts, potentially reaching tens of thousands of new people. It also extends the conversation after the event has ended by having a place online where users can go back and see all the photos that were shared that evening.

Currently, Chute Live is being used during this weekend’s NBA All Star event on a large interactive touchscreen, along with an online .gif and live photo gallery from NBA players and photographers. The Cosmopolitan in Las Vegas is also using it for their #PopUpWedding chapel, and guests can see their photos on a screen facing the Strip and throughout the Cosmopolitan’s chapel.


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Online engagement doesn’t have to only occur online. Utilizing it live gives users a tactile product for the digital content they create and share and  gives the audience the immediate satisfaction of seeing their photo being broadcast. It’s simple, instant, visually engaging, and increases the online hype surrounding the event.

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The Power of Fans

February 14, 2013 Add Comment Monica Watson

Online fan followers of movies, books, products, and musicians are powerful, and ignoring that does a huge disservice to your brand’s or product’s potential. Here are a few examples of engaging fan-focused campaigns and tips for how to tap into this power.

BBC’s #NewToWho campaign

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Before the latest season of the BBC’s hit science fiction show Doctor Who, they launched an interactive campaign asking fans to share how they discovered the show. The BBC received tweets, photos, tumblr posts, and video responses to the question and featured some on their official  websites, social media platforms, and even on air.

Television shows with a cult following like Doctor Who typically have very passionate fans who love to share their own personal experience with the content. This campaign gave the audience the opportunity to tell their own story, but also turned every person who interacted into a brand advocate and leveraged the friends and followers of each fan to generate more hype around the show.

Lady Gaga

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Celebuzz’s Chute-powered #BuzzThisWay was an online photo contest where fans dressed up like Lady Gaga, with the winner getting tickets to see her live. Lady Gaga’s “little monsters” are a particularly passionate group who live by the singer’s lyrics and love to dress up in Gaga style, so most already own outfits or clothing items inspired by the singer. The contest gave users a fun project to take part in that didn’t take too much extra effort and encouraged further interaction with a voting system for the best looks.

Having users submit photos or tweets with a hashtag is great, but displaying the photos you’re collecting and even having users vote on the photos is a fantastic way to get them to spend more time on your site along with increasing engagement and the number of unique visitors your site gets.


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Sometimes it’s not about leveraging your own fan following, but engaging someone else’s following. Singers and Youtube creators Rhett and Link annually host a Supernote challenge and involve many of YouTube’s top creators such as WheezyWaiter or the SourceFed team along with their fans. Each Youtube creator is a team captain, and their job is to get their subscribers to submit a video of them holding a note for as long as possible. The group with the longest collective note wins a trophy and bragging rights.

Collaboration and cross-promotion between brands or personalities introduces new audiences to your content.

Engaging fans is all about creating fun and unique opportunities. Have you ever participated in a fan engagement campaign or have a favorite you’ve seen a brand or personality run? Leave a comment below or tweet us @GetChute with your response!

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