iStrategyBlabs

The Facebook “Mentions Box” Goes Live At The Emmy Awards

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Facebook, already the biggest brand in social media, was looking for a better way to bridge the gap between celebrities and fans, specifically at live events. Behold: The Facebook “Mentions Box” which just debuted at the 2014 Emmy’s — allowing celebrities to “shake” the device to surface a fan question (pulling directly from the event’s Facebook Page) and immediately record a video response back.

At the Emmys, the Mentions Box was used by everyone from Jimmy Fallon, to Matthew McConaughey, to Ty Burrell and Jason Biggs — to stars from Game of Thrones, Orange Is the New Black, and HBO’s Silicon Valley (see below!).

Matthew McConaughey - Mentions Box

After many discussions, brainstorms, and rapid prototyping efforts focused on how to best represent the Facebook platform in physical space, we landed on a simple concept drawing inspiration from mediums people already know and enjoy (landing on something between a Magic 8-Ball in function and an Etch-A-Sketch in form).

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Ultimately, we settled on a tablet encased in a polycarbonate form factor, with a luxury car finish.

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We started the process by concepting potential types of physical devices that talent would be able to easily (and quickly) interact with — using cardboard and simple materials to play around with various form factors.

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The admin console (primarily a question moderation tool) sources questions from specific Facebook posts and then pushes approved questions straight to The Facebook Mentions Box.

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Leading up to the Emmy’s, The Mentions Box was featured on Access Hollywood by hosts Billy Bush and Shaun Robinson:

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More pics of the Mentions Box in action, straight from the Access Hollywood Facebook Page!

 

 

 

 


Update
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On September 5th, Facebook teamed up with Stand Up To Cancer to utilize the Mentions Box to connect celebrities with donors supporting the live charity event.
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Creating a Logo for ContraryCon

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This Saturday, ISL will be putting on a free web conference entitled ContraryCon. The half-day event, kicking off at noon at 1776, will consist of a series of presentations in which speakers will present ideas in opposition to the popularly accepted trends in interactive design and development.

When I joined ISL in May, one of my first projects involved working on a logo mark for the conference as well as subsequent branding along with several other new hires (James, Rebecca, and Alyssa). Each of us was tasked with creating several logos on our own before coming together for group design team critiques.

The final logo mark, a criss-crossing “X” formed by back-to-back C’s, came from many personal iterations trying to explore the idea of contrarian views that would be expressed at the conference. Here’s a quick look at what went into crafting a mark for a contrary conference.

Many Many Iterations

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Although the end logo may look sleek and simple, there were many different iterations that went into crafting the final crossing C’s. Between three designers, we ended up with 20+ different ideas of logomarks and typefaces before coming to the final product.

Just on my own, I explored concepts ranging from a canary in a coal mine (both a bird meant to warn workers and a song off of The Police’s Zenyatta Mondatta) to the idiom of the black sheep (“used to describe an odd or disreputable member of a group, especially in a family” – thank you Wikipedia) to a take on the clichéd speech bubble representing debate. All of my ideas were focused on ideas that go against the grain, offer debate, and seek attention. Unfortunately, they were all also a bit of a stretch when it came down to what they meant.

Shuffling Up the Conversation

 

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The end goal of ContraryCon is to encourage attendees rethink how and why they work. Our amazing panel of speakers will be arguing for and against trends in design and technology. In essence, they’ll be mixing up the stale and complacent conversation so many of us are having every day.

This idea of remixing our thought process lead me to think of the shuffle icon. A simple cross of curved lines, the icon has come to represent the mixing of content. In the case of ContraryCon, words, ideas, and speeches will be shuffled and rethought.

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What started as the everyday shuffle icon became a simplified cross, symbolizing a warning – a call for attention. Above you can see just a few of the many iterations on this simple shuffle idea that lead to the final deliverable.

The End Product

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In the end, my final cross was paired with Norwester, a typeface chosen and slightly modified by James. Not only that, but our small team fleshed out a variety of collateral that will be displayed throughout the conference venue.

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If you’re in the DC area this Saturday, make sure to come out and and get contrarian! For any more info on the event, check out the ContraryCon site.

Summer 2014 Music Festivals Get Social — Coachella Leads The Pack

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With summer coming to a close, we decided to take a look back at how some of the country’s most well-attended music festivals — Coachella, Bonnaroo, Firefly, and most recently, Lollapalooza — used social and digital activations to enhance their crop-topped crowds’ festival experiences. We took a look into an array of  festival activations including RFID bracelets, .gif animators, and Instagram installations; so, whether you found yourself swaying side-to-side at Woodstock 45 years ago, or your Coachella sunburn just stopped peeling, we think you’ll appreciate the great lengths festivals are going to these days to ensure that no experience goes undocumented. After all, how else are you supposed to prove to your future children that you once crowd surfed in the middle of a field in Delaware?

Festival Facts and Stats

  • CoachellaIndio, California // April 2014 // Headliners: OutKast, Muse, Arcade Fire // Launched 1999

  • Bonnaroo: Manchester, Tennessee // June 2014 // Headliners: Elton John, Kanye West, Jack White // Launched 2002

  • Firefly: Dover, Delaware // June 2014 // Headliners: OutKast, Foo Fighters, Jack Johnson // Launched 2012

  • Lollapalooza: Chicago, Illinois // August 2014 // Headliners: Eminem, OutKast, Kings of Leon // Launched 1991

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R.F.I.D. Wristbands

If you’ve been to a music festival recently you know that the likelihood of your cell phone battery dying is high (gasp!). Should this tragically occur, how are you supposed to check-in to the OutKast stage on Facebook? Thanks to radio frequency identification technology (R.F.I.D.), several festivals have started implementing R.F.I.D. wristbands that attendees can “personalize” using their Facebook information. Lollapalooza attendees were even able to pay for food and drinks using their smart wristbands as part of the Lolla Cashless system, making them the first music festival to take that leap. Not only is this feature handy for festival attendees, it’s a gold mine for marketers. Think about all the data and analytics you can get by scanning those wristbands, people.

Source: BizBash Erika Goldring, Photo: Erika Goldring

Bonnaroo attendees swipe their wristbands, and have their photo taken and
shared to social media at one of four kiosks around the venue (Source: BizBash, Photo: Erika Goldring)

 

Coachella, #HMLovesMusic

Festival fashion is synonymous with cut-offs, fringe, and fanny packs. This year Coachella partnered with H&M to capture festival-goers’ style with one of our favorite social activations — they’re calling it “H&M <3 Music,” and we’re calling it “The .GIF Runway”. Users were recorded walking on a treadmill-like platform in front of a green screen, and turned into psychedelic supermodels after a little bit of photo magic.  The outcome below is pure genius.

Source: The Bosco

Witness additional hilarity here. (Source: The Bosco)

Festival Frames

Human-sized photo frames are all the rage at festivals this summer. If Instagramming your music festival experience wasn’t already at the forefront of your mind when you walked through the gates, these festival photo frames are an in-your-face reminder to strike a pose with your pals.

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Not only were Firefly Instagrammers able to collect free polaroid sticker prints of photos they tagged with #InstaFirefly, little did they know that they were simultaneously helping Firefly paint a much bigger picture with their photos. Throughout the festival, Firefly staff were tasked with strategically placing copies of fan photos onto a wall, creating a giant photo mosaic. At the end of the weekend, Firefly revealed the finished product via their own Instagram account.

Firefly staff arranged fan photos on a mural, creating a giant image of a Firefly artist

Firefly staff arranged fan photos on a mural, creating a giant image of a Firefly artist

Celebrity Activations
Sure .GIF runways are awesome and cashless wristbands are convenient, but get a celebrity to show up to your festival and you have the power to break Twitter. Native Chicagoan Malia Obama was spotted at Lollapalooza this month in true festival fashion — a flower printed tank top accessorized with her Secret Service agents. One lucky fan actually managed to sneak a photo with the eldest Obama, and was kind enough to share the moment on Twitter.

 

We can’t help but think that the only thing missing from this impressive collection of activations is a Social Beer Fridge — like this one – that fans can unlock with their wristbands. Who knows what next summer will bring. Until then, enjoy this Spotify playlist with your crappy headphones while you count down to next summer’s festivals.

What It’s Like To Be A Teacher At General Assembly

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Teaching is something iStratetyLabs fully supports — nay encourages — for its employees both internally and within the community. We have a multitude of opportunities to both teach and learn from our coworkers. We have “Battle Schools”, which allow team members to teach  a topic they’re passionate about to follow ISL-ers. It’s a great way to learn and a great way to practice public speaking. There are other awesome things we do, but they’re G-14 classified! You’ll have to join the team in order to have access to such knowledge.

A few months ago, Samia Khan wrote the post “What’s it like to be a student at General Assembly”. At the time I was just getting started with my Front End Web Development course. I thought I’d give an alternate account to round out the experience so that potential students as well as instructors have an idea of what to expect from a GA class.

I began a GA 10-week front end web development (FEWD) course back in May. Other than the standard instructor preparation I wasn’t sure what to expect. What I walked away with was much more than a teaching experience. Sure, I created lesson plans, spoke in front of people on a regular basis, critiqued assignments, and all the other responsibilities that come along with being an instructor of any kind, but that’s just the beginning.

Having to teach people what you take for granted every day is an incredibly enlightening experience. I found that concepts/ideas that I thought to be simple and straightforward are actually nuanced and fairly complicated. On the other hand, concepts that I thought I understood well, were brought forth and I was forced to reevaluate my own understanding– this is a humbling experience to say the least.

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On the first day of class expectations are set. Students are informed that the course is not designed to create expert front end developers, rather, to provide building blocks and tools that can be used to enrich an individual’s knowledge and experience — “Give a man a fish…” you know the rest. One thing I had to reiterate to my students was that professional developers (and myself by extension) don’t know everything and that asking for help and googling for answers was a big part of the job. I even touched briefly on the myth of the genius programmer.

By far the most rewarding portion of the class was final presentations. There were students who, prior to the course, had never really touched HTML/CSS/JavaScript and whom by the end, presented interactive websites and in some cases the beginnings of web applications! Creating a foundation of working knowledge that empowers students to grow individually is a responsibility I do not take lightly. It was an honor and privilege to take part in that process. Kudos to my TAs Michael Dick and Rami Chowdhury — you guys rock.

iStrategyLabs: Small Agency of the Year 2014 by Ad Age

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backpatWe’ve never been over the top with awards submissions – but this year we felt iStrategyLabs was really hitting its stride so we submitted to the Ad Age Small Agency Awards in the biggest, baddest, most prestigious category: SMALL AGENCY OF THE YEAR

We felt our work had finally reached the point where we could be considered the best in the business….Ad Age Agreed.

We’re proud to announce that iStrategyLabs has been named Small Agency of the Year by Ad Age!

iStrategyLabs’ Creative Director, Zach Goodwin, just picked up our silver award for the South-east region in this prestigious category.

We’re so happy and proud of all the hard work the team has put in over the years getting to this point – and for the wonderful clients we’ve had the fortune to collaborate with over our early years. There’s so much more to come!

Here are just a few animated gif shared by the team when we heard the news:

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Now if only the US could win the World Cup…