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By Stacey Decker

It’s a premise familiar to online journalists: There’s a new tool for creating interactives. It’s sleek and it has the potential to increase reader engagement. Fast forward 6 months and you can’t even remember your login information to get on the site. (Let’s hope you know your mother’s maiden name.)

Online tools are a lot like real tools that way—some just collect dust. In modern newsrooms, where journalists are strapped for time, new forms of storytelling need to have a high impact, but a low barrier to entry. ThingLink has those elements. For us at Education Week, it’s a useful resource … and one that we actually use.

Why We Use Thinglink

There are a few complex features of ThingLink that are especially impressive. The interface is extremely user-friendly. Thinglink is integrated with other platforms we already use, like YouTube and Soundcloud. Thinglink provides publishers with a lot of useful analytics about images and viewer behavior, including hovers and clicks. And the site has an engaged community.

But the real beauty of Thinglink is its simplicity. It’s easy to conceptualize a story that works in this format. There aren’t any prerequisites to begin using the tool, other than a good idea. And that good idea gives back. Embed a Thinglink on your site and you can take create an immersive experience on any page.

How We Use Thinglink

At Education Week, we have two main uses for Thinglink:

1. Narrative Storytelling

When using Thinglink to tell a story, we let our photography take the lead. The context, links, and additional material we layer on ties everything together. In this example (now with more than 4,000 views), images, text, and audio, converge to reveal the complexities of arming educators:

2. Infographics and Resource Multimedia Thinglink can be helpful to journalists looking for interesting ways to present data, information, and tips and tricks. In our most popular Thinglink to date (with almost 20,000 views), we used the tool to show our audience of educators how to teach students to vet research materials:

Three Tips for Journalists

If I’ve convinced you to try Thinglink, here’s some helpful advice:

1. Look at what other publishers are doing.

Plenty of newspapers—international, national, and local—are using Thinglink to show off their front pages, section fronts, and $126 billion dollar magazine covers. Others have gotten more inventive. The Washington Post partnered with Thinglink on their coverage of the 2013 White House Correspondents’ Dinner. The Guardian has used Thinglink to layer videos and archival material on top of infographics. Mashable’s used it to make a holiday gift guide. And Discovery Communications has worked with Thinglink to use the tool as a way to deliver advertising.

2. Look at what everybody else is doing.

Commercial outfits like Home Depot, State Farm, and Groupon are using Thinglink to share tips and promote products and services. Thinglink’s unaffiliated users are arguably the most innovative, using the medium to enhance posters, illustrations, maps, and historical photos.

3. Experiment and Edit.

The best way to get acquainted with Thinglink is to upload an image and start tagging. (If you want to do this in private, change your image visibility to “unlisted” until you’ve got your image the way you want it.) Look for additional media (videos, audio, photos, tweets, etc.) to make your images richer. But don’t overdo it; tags shouldn’t overwhelm your image. In the same vein, keep tag descriptions short. And think about the order of your tags. In the end, your Thinglink should service your reader.

Bonus Tip: Get the browser plugin. (It’s a huge time saver.)

I look forward to seeing more of the creative and complex ways newsrooms and publishers put this tool to work for them.


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Stacey Decker is Online News Editor at Education Week (www.edweek.org), America’s source for news and opinion on K-12 education issues.

 

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If you’re a startup, a small-to-medium sized business, a not-for-profit, a political action committee, an indie record label, a college, a small publisher or a professional educator interested in using ThingLink’s premium features, now you can upgrade online to our Small Business Premium Starter Package.

For as little as $250 you get an annual account license with:

  • 50,000 Views — Add more views as you need them.
  • Unlimited Images — Post an unlimited number of images to your account.
  • Multi-User – Invite multiple team members and colleagues into your group/channel to create, distribute and manage images.
  • Make Images Public, Private, Unlisted — Set a preference for each image and control views – from public to private to unlisted.
  • Advanced Dashboard — Get detailed metrics on how your images and content perform, and metrics for web and social channels where your images are shared.
  • Personalized Icons — Upload company logos and graphics to customize your images.
Premium Small Business includes comprehensive performance metrics on each image.

Premium Small Business includes comprehensive performance metrics on each image.

 

Upgrade to Premium Small Business today and start driving higher engagement for your images on web pages and social channels.

Questions? Write Sales@ThingLink.com.

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Screen Shot 2013-10-14 at 11.30.52 AMThe Interactive Image Revolution – How Top Brands are Powering Engagement,” a report presented today at the Pivot Conference, features the first independent analysis of ThingLink interactive image performance and its use by major publishers and brands.

To obtain a specific sense of ThingLink’s impact on ad fundamentals, The Pivot Conference and ThingLink worked together during the summer of 2013 to study ThingLink programs of companies across four core categories: Editorial Web, Editorial Social, Brand Web and Brand Social. In each case, actual, live ThingLink implementations were examined. In each category, 15 ThingLink enabled images were studied.

The results of the study show a dramatic impact for ThingLink images as response generators. At a time when banner ad click rates subsist between .01% and .04%, depending on source, ThingLink delivered an average click rate of between 5.7% and 16%. Not only was the overall response rate breathtakingly high, the study indicated some clear reasons why.

According to Mike Edelhart, CEO of Pivot, who authored the report, “One of the reasons ThingLink’s information-embedding approach has power is because it transforms an image from a single object, clickable or not, into a cornucopia of information choices. This produces an engagement intensification that neither standard images nor content approaches can deliver.”

ThingLink content elements generated “hover” engagement at up to nearly 4X the level of views. This means a ThingLink image can generate four interactions from a single view. At the lowest level, ThingLink produced a 50% secondary engagement per view. Any one of these intensified interactions can be the trigger for a click.

“In short, the information-enabled image appears to be a more powerful tool for generating clicks than any other we have seen before,” said Edelhart.

The ThingLink study shows clearly that the more information options in an image – shown on the table as number of Tags – the higher the engagement intensification. That doesn’t necessarily lead directly to higher click rates, but it certainly increases the potential for maximization.

Another view of ThingLink’s power can be seen by diving into the performance of Groupon’s program in the summer of 2013. Across six different products, ThingLink produced a remarkable click rate of 16% and an intensification of 96%, which means that nearly all of those who viewed the images saw the additional content that ThingLink delivered. In essence, that is a fundamental doubling of engagement; each user sees both the image itself and at least one additional piece of content on each view. We feel it is this essential intensification that drives ThingLink’s high response rates.

In addition to studying how others use ThingLink, Pivot itself used the platform to enhance promotion and information delivery for the Conference.

“We addressed the challenge of bringing a star-studded preview video about Pivot to our home page without pushing other key content below the fold by embedded the video thumbnail into our home page header with ThingLink,” noted Edelhart.  “There was a 41% increase in new traffic to Pivot’s external marketing programs after creating a Thinglink button to promote the program within Pivot’s web header.”

Pivot Conference also used ThingLink to transform the images of Pivot’s speakers into information launch pads.  “With ThingLink we were able to bring web pages, social connections, bios, videos and other speaker background right into the pictures,” added Edelhart.  There was an increase in the average time on the speaker section of Pivot’s website from 3:07 to 4:04. Conference organizers also received a gush of pleasure from Pivot’s generally hard to please speakers to this implementation, as many asked to include additional content within their pictures on the site.

For more information visit ThingLink.com. For a copy of the report visit the Pivot Conference.

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ThingLink and Discovery Communications, the world’s #1 nonfiction media, have announced a partnership for deploying ThingLink-powered interactive images and display ads across the digital destinations for Discovery Channel, TLC, Animal Planet, Science and other networks in their portfolio.

To enhance the partnership, Discovery, ThingLink, and Flite announced an integration of ThingLink inside Flite’s Ad Studio. Flite publishers like Discovery, as well as advertisers, agencies and brands with ThingLink premium accounts, can now deploy ThingLink-powered rich media display ads for desktop and mobile through Flite’s ad server platform.

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Discovery is driving digital advertising innovation by utilizing Thinglink’s interactive tagging capabilities to enhance their content and to deliver value for partners. By using custom-designed images, Discovery can tell more compelling creative stories that offer clients and brands the chance to integrate more seamlessly around sponsorship initiatives or custom-produced programs.

Key to their strategy is organically driving views and engagement beyond traditional advertising techniques through SEO and increased fan engagement that extends to social connections.  Discovery will strategically target these new rich media ads to compliment their image-based editorial content thereby creating a cohesive user experience that feels very integrated and blurs the line between content and traditional ad spaces.

ThingLink’s Premium platform enables publishers to serve 3rd party content over images. Publishers can use custom graphical icons on ThingLink images and build proprietary in-image applications for shopping, content marketing, and social connection. ThingLink’s real-time metrics allow for invaluable data collection with click-through-rates that continually outperform standards. ThingLink images are also viewable across social channels and web pages and shareable to social channels like Facebook, Twitter and Tumblr.  Four of the top ten newspaper publishers and ten of the top fifty global brands use ThingLink for creating and sharing interactive images.  ThingLink publisher partners also include CBS Interactive and New York Magazine.

Flite empowers their publisher and brand clients to easily publish brand assets and messaging directly into their paid media. Flite has an expanding library of third party ad components, which allow clients to easily bring in content from providers such as Twitter, Facebook, Youtube, and more. With the added integration of ThingLink, Flite continues to offer interactive functionality within display advertising for both clients and partners.

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ThingLink Mobile, our iOS app, is constantly evolving and here’s a brand new feature for you. In addition to the ability to add video, text and @twitter IDs to your interactive images, we’ve added the ability to add image on image. Now you can tag a photo with images from your photo gallery.   This enables you to tell a deeper story through pictures like the one below, which was  created with an iPhone and ThingLink’s Mobile app.

Journalists, teachers, students, event bloggers and  iReporters can make full use of the new feature when creating interactive ThingLink images. Now you can tell a deeper story and capture fuller moments. Here’s my story about a Blackbird which had created a nest in an unusual place to feed her young ones.

HOW TO BUILD IT: Start out by taking or selecting the image on which you would like to overlay your other images. I had this photo with bikes on it so I started with that to tell my story.

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Tap anywhere on the image to add a tag and select which kind of tag you would like to make. We’re doing image on image so head over to your gallery by clicking on “Choose from gallery”.

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Pick the image you would like to add to the image as a tag.

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As usual you can add a text tag.

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Add a few more tags, either using text, video or images, and then you’re done.

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The image is now shareable to social channels, and browsable either in the app or online at thinglink.com.

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How are you using ThingLink Mobile?

 

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ThingLink has closed a $2 million financing round for offering interactive image solutions to publishers and brands, it was announced today. This is ThingLink’s second funding announcement since launching in August 2010, to bring total funding to $3.9 million.

The round was led by Helsinki-based VC firm Inventure Oy. Participants include social media and ad tech angels from New York and San Francisco including Terrapin Bale, led by former Tumblr president John Maloney, the CEO of Fremantle Media N.A. Thom Beers, the managing partner of Trimaran Capital Dean Kehler, SoundCloud CTO Eric Wahlforss, and TEKES, the Finnish Funding Agency for Technology and Innovation.

“ThingLink has proven itself as a highly engaging media solution that enables new and creative ways for brands and consumers to connect through images. The team and I are excited to have onboard investors and advisors with strong experience in media, publishing, advertising and entertainment,” said ThingLink founder and CEO Ulla Engeström, who will relocate from Helsinki, Finland to New York City to lead the company’s growth.

As part of this funding round, ThingLink also announced new appointments to its board of directors, including Entertainment Media Ventures CEO Sandy Climan and former Facebook media sales director Craig Coblenz.

Former Meredith Publishing and Newsweek/Daily Beast executive Hillary Billingsley was also appointed as chief revenue officer.

Over 220,000 publishers, including 4 of the top 10 newspapers and 10 of the top 50 global brands, use ThingLink to transform images into an interactive surface for rich media – including video players, social links and other apps – that makes content discoverable, engageable and sellable.

Hundreds of automotive, fashion, entertainment, B2B and consumer brands have used ThingLink to introduce products, educate customers, and deploy shoppable images with interactive video, music, and information links.

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About ThingLink
ThingLink is the most popular platform for creating and distributing interactive images for blogs, web pages, social channels and advertising. ThingLink is used by more than 220,000 publishers in 46 countries, including leading newspapers and magazines, brands, digital agencies, universities, schools, and long-tail bloggers. For more information visit: ThingLink.com and ThingLinkPress.com

Contact: Neil Vineberg, CMO (+1 631 377 1494)

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Today we are happy to share a major improvement to the image editor on our web platform at ThingLink.com.Screen Shot 2013-05-29 at 1.34.17 PM

You can now use our search functionality to find wonderful content for your images.

Your search will query content at Etsy, SoundCloud, Amazon, ThingLink pictures, YouTube and Vimeo.

Run your search, click on an item you want to feature in your image, save tag, and it’s added to your image with a preview so you can see what it looks like when hovered.

As always you can add a tag description of up to 1500 characters and change the icon to a standard one for free user accounts or a custom one for premium user accounts.

If you want your company’s products featured in ThingLink Search, please contact our business development team.

 

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ThingLink Mobile is the ideal iOS App for creating interactive images with embedded video players, text links and @Twitter IDs. This post focuses on adding live videos to images.

Take a picture with your iPhone using ThingLink Mobile (or use an existing photo). I saw the band Chicago at Westbury Music Fair this weekend and used ThingLink to capture videos of my favorite songs on images shot at the show.

 Here’s how you can take family and concert photos and capture moments around you daily by adding videos into your images.

1 Open ThingLink Mobile on your iPhone.

2 Take a new photo or use any image from your gallery.

3 Touch the image and two options appear:

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      Add Text - touch and add any text including #hashtags and @Twitter handles.

   Add Video – touch and you’ll see three video options

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Now lets add a video.

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  Take a Video – shoot your own 30 second videos.

  Choose from Gallery – add videos you’ve already shot with iPhone.

   Add from YouTube – touch and open up a search on YouTube – add your favorite videos from YouTube.

 

 

 

 

 

TIPS for Adding Live Video – to avoid seeing upside down or sideways videos inside the image:

Shooting video with the REAR camera, hold the iPhone with the HOME button to your right.

Shooting video with the FRONT camera, hold the iPhone with the HOME button to your left.

IMPORTANT: NEVER shoot videos with the camera held vertically.

photo 3If you see an iPhone image overlay while getting set to shoot a video, it means you’re holding the camera incorrectly.

The iPhone image overlay is an error message.  Flip the camera until that overlay disappears. When the image disappears, you’re ready to shoot.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The image below is what you see if you shoot video and have the HOME button on the wrong side.  The image overlay is an error message. Flip the camera until that overlay disappears.

photo 4

 

Here is what you should see when you’re holding the camera properly.  Now, you’re ready to shoot.

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Good luck shooting ThingLink Mobile videos.  Questions? Write to support@thinglink.com.

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ThingLink partnered with The Washington Post for coverage of the 2013 White House Correspondents Dinner in Washington D.C.

Post reporters used a pre-release version of ThingLink Mobile to enhance their live coverage of the event. Images appeared in social channels and “The Grid”, The Post’s live experience platform.

Read more at Journalism.co.uk

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ThingLink, the most popular interactive image platform for publishers, brands, agencies and consumers, today added interactive image sharing to Facebook Timeline. Now when publishers share ThingLink interactive images to Facebook, viewers can “touch” them to experience the content inside the image — without leaving Timeline.

ThingLink’s proprietary, patent-pending web-based solution allows publishers to create, tag and share any image, in any environment, quickly and easily. ThingLink allows content producers to better understand how their images are being used by consumers on the different social media platforms, both in terms of interactions with the image as well as a wide range of social behaviors.

Publishers and individuals can now use ThingLink to transform static images on Facebook Timeline into a discovery experience — with music and video players, social links and brand content that appear inside an image when it is “touched.” Rich media tags from services like Youtube, Vimeo, Instagram, Imgur, Flickr, and Twitter are supported from the beginning, and support for custom third-party tags will be added in the coming weeks.

“Images are becoming forums for conversation and discovery that include sharing, touching, commenting, and remixing rich media content created by others,” said CEO Ulla Engeström. “ThingLink is now enabling a new kind of discovery experience on Facebook Timeline that evokes emotion and brings moments to life in ways that drive higher engagement.”

Founded in 2010, ThingLink is the leading interactive image platform with over 130,000 publishers. ThingLink’s enterprise level account for publishers, agencies and brands offers such key features as group account management and the ability to create and launch custom image apps and icons that enhance engagement. ThingLink also offers advanced metrics for measuring image performance across social channels like Facebook, Twitter, and Tumblr, enabling valuable, new insights into consumer engagement.

For more information visit ThingLink.com and ThingLinkPress.com.
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How to share your images to Facebook Timeline?
CopyPaste a ThingLink url to your timeline. See examples from MSF, Huffington Post France, and Giorgio Armani.

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