Searching movie posterI’ve been blogging for a decade here all about technology, the web, marketing and more. Something I’ve never done until now is a movie review. There’s a first time for everything, right? Let’s talk about the movie Searching.

Here’s a quick synopsis from Rotten Tomatoes:

After David Kim (John Cho)’s 16-year-old daughter goes missing, a local investigation is opened and a detective is assigned to the case. But 37 hours later and without a single lead, David decides to search the one place no one has looked yet, where all secrets are kept today: his daughter’s laptop. In a hyper-modern thriller told via the technology devices we use every day to communicate, David must trace his daughter’s digital footprints before she disappears forever.

Movies have been trying to show characters using technology to varying success for ever. On one hand, you have films like the Matrix Reloaded. It showed a character using real tools like Nmap exploits to hack a network. On the other, there’s terrible portrayals. Look at films like Swordfish or Hackers, which are just laughable in their use of technology.

What if you’re technology savvy and you see bad use of technology? In my case, I disconnect from the story. Searching was not one of those films.

Searching gets the technology right. From going through the correct steps to reset a password, to tracking online payments. From live streaming and vlogging. The technology here is correct.  Because of that, I was engaged from the get go.

It’s more than technology.  A good movie needs a good story to resonate and capture the viewer. As a parent, the thought of losing a child is my worst fear. This fact brings a ton of tension to the story. After the film, I really thought about what I would do if I was in this parent’s shoes and I could not find my child.

John Cho stars as the father looking for his daughter, and it was interesting to watch him fumble at times with the tech, or be unsure of how some sites work.

It was much like I think I’d react if I had to open my son’s phone and try to find what apps he connected with people on and what they do. Again, reality is a key here.

The film is worth seeing in a theater. If it has already left your local multiplex, check it on when it comes to digital and streaming in a few months.

Snapcode from SnapchatSnapchat certainly hasn’t been getting the press that Instagram and Facebook has lately. When Snap is covered, it’s been about falling stock prices. It’s about how they bungled their redesign and alienated users. It’s fair criticism. Snap didn’t do a great job communicating to users.  It’s had to roll back some of the design elements to appease users. It also seems they’ve lost ground on the stories feature to Instagram lately, which is a shame as Snap really pushed stories first.

I’ve written before about how I made my Snap stories public, and about Snapchat’s analytics tools they launched earlier this year. Since then, I’ve been randomly posting to my public feed. I haven’t had a plan or motive with my posts. In fact, it’s been mostly an afterthought in terms of my social usage this year. I’ve enjoyed the interactions and tools on Instagram (follow me here) over Snapchat, but I’ve got a much larger audience on Snapchat.

I was pleasantly surprised to see this weekend that my public story views went over the 500,000 mark. The fact that my stories have been viewed a half a million times is crazy. People around the world have spent over 33,200 minutes watching my stories. That’s over 550 hours. Crazy.

Snapchat Analytics

Screenshot of my public story analytics

Observations on half a million views

What have I learned from reaching this milestone?

First, Snapchat isn’t dead. Have they fallen behind Instagram, especially on the stories side? Yes. But all’s not lost. In watching what social platforms my 16-year-old son uses, his main method of communication and sharing is Snapchat.

Snapchat needs to catch up where it’s fallen behind on stories. It needs to integrate new features like Instagram’s “ask a question” story feature. I plan to write more about the “ask a question” feature, but Snap should get something like that into it’s story as soon as they can.

Second, as I dig into the analytic data, I see that people who do view my story view all of the story. On my days, my story view percentage is 100%, and rarely dips below 95%.

Keep in mind, these people are mostly strangers, so the fact they follow all my posts shows users on the platform are engaged and watch stories. I don’t know if brand stories with lots of ads get the same sort of engagement.

Even when go without a post for a week or so, the viewership is still there and the numbers are consistent.

Finally, Snapchat needs to give users a way to discover other users easier. Instagram does a good job of this, but Snap doesn’t. I know Snapchat’s core functionality is between two people, but if they want to grow they need better user and  brand account search features. Easier search means more viewers means more ad dollars.

Now that I’ve reached this milestone, I wonder how fast I can get to a million views? Will it be before the end of 2018? I’ll post again when I reach that mark.

One of the best ways to stay on top of trends, share information, and learn more about our field is to attend conferences. There are many great conferences around the world that go on all year, and I wanted to talk about some of the ones coming up this Fall.

First, a quick tangent. If you feel so inclined, I can’t recommend enough how valuable it has been to share what I’ve learned over the years by presenting at conferences. Presenting has been a great way to learn new topics, and have great discussions with engaged colleagues before, during, and after your presentation. Yes, it can be stressful and filled with anxiety, but I personally love the rush that comes with putting together a talk and presenting. I’ll have to blog about it in more detail.

EdUi 2018: October 8-10

EdUi is a conference for web professionals serving colleges, universities, libraries and museums. This year, the conference will be held in Charlottesville, Virginia. The program this year is very strong featuring some very strong keynote speakers.

I haven’t been to this conference myself but have heard very good things about it.

Social Media Strategies Summit, Higher Ed: October 10-12

The Social Media Strategies Summit will be held in New York City this October. Bringing together some of the top people in higher ed and speakers from the tools and service we use, this is shaping up to be a conference full of great presenters and topics.

Speakers include Mike Petroff, Nikki Sunstrum and Tim Cigelske to name just a few. There are presenters from schools large and small, public and private, east and west. If you’re looking for something that really focuses on social, this may be the conference for you.

We have partnered with SMSS Higher Ed this year to bring you the latest and greatest in social media marketing for the higher education industry! Join us in New York this October 10-12 and save 15% on #SMSsummit today by using the code HIGHEREDWEBTECH15!

HighEdWeb 2018: October 20-24

This is certainly the big conference. HighEdWeb 2018 is the annual conference of the Higher Education Web Professionals Association, created by and for higher education professionals exploring the unique digital issues facing colleges and universities. This year’s conference will be held in Sacramento, California.

This is a great, great conference. I’ve presented at it many times and was fortunate to lead one of the tracks for a few years. There’s a great mix of technical, marketing, and content here. Whatever part of higher ed web or marketing you work in, you’ll find content here that is relevant to you.

Higher Education Social Media Conference: November 28

HigherEdExperts puts on great virtual conferences throughout the year, focusing on topics like social, content, and websites. Because they’re virtual, they are easy to attend and more cost efficient. This makes events like the Higher Education Social Media Conference appealing because your entire team can attend the event. My friend Karine Joly puts a great deal of work and preparation into these events, and I know she’s passionate about putting together a conference full of good, actionable sessions.

Like similar events, there are a nice mix of speakers for this event. I think it’d be worth it to attend if your travel budget has been reduced or you want more people on your team to have an opportunity to learn more about social.

unsplash-logoMikael Kristenson