Dec 26, 2010

Where he at?

Hullo you.

To the special few who venture here, you may have noticed I haven't been saying much lately. I've joined thinktank media to help push things forward in social + digital for some wonderful clients.

Look us up.

You'll find my occasional blog posts here:

Go well.


Oct 12, 2010

Will @aplusk end world slavery (or whatever)?

I've been giving some thought recently to how we identify 'What is effective social media marketing?'

Is it about the big numbers - the most YouTube views? The most Facebook fans? The most diggs?
To wit: What works??

I'm not talking so much about ROI (that's another story) but more so social media marketing that adds value to our lives and to brands.

@faris suggested to me that we still seem to quantify successful social media activity using the old (advertising) formulas.

(simply) impressions = conversions = revenue. Increase the former and your should increase the latter.

But does this still apply and, importantly (to me), does this apply in social media?

Some of the bigger names on Facebook and Twitter are courted to endorse a product, event or service (impressions). The expectation is that influence in one sphere (let's say Reality TV - hello @kimkardashian) can be transferred to another sphere (local fashion?)

impressions = conversions = revenue

Booty Call to help local brands

"OMG, it's like... OMG" [OMG!]

Sure the 'booty call' was fine but I'd suggest the activity only generated fleeting interest for associated brands - particularly through social media.

OMG is not always remembered weeks later.

I recently came across an article that suggested the post popular twitter users (based on followers) were not necessarily the most influential (retweets, mentions). The article suggests while we like to talk about the twitterati we are not talking with them or even about what they tweet. The article concluded:

A user's popularity .. is not related to other important notions of influence such as engaging audience, i.e., retweets and mentions. Retweets are driven by the content value of a tweet, while mentions are driven by the name value of the user.

The notion of reaching key influencers online to champion your message or idea is not at all new. The popular communications theory (put forward by many, years ago) maintains that:

... by targeting these influentials in the network, one may achieve a large-scale chain-reaction of influence driven by word-of-mouth with a very small marketing cost.
More recent thought suggests the key factors determining influence are actually:

1) the interpersonal relationships among ordinary users, and
2) The readiness of society to adopt an innovation
From my own experience I have to say I'm loathe to RT or share anything from a 'personality' on twitter. Like many people, I followed a few names I thought might be interesting. Not many of them were. They oscillated from the truly dull to the over-hyped.

"Meh" I thought.

The people that have really kept me interested are the everyday users - people I may or may not have met - but people I can visualise, identify with and who share their humanity with others. Excited people. Imperfect people. People I can connect with at some level.

These are the people that influence my thoughts and actions more so than any @kimkardashian or @aplusk can hope to.

Do you care what Ashton Kutcher thinks about slavery?

Are you more likely to take an action to end slavery if a close connection has done so or if Ashton says it's cool? Maybe both?

To my mind the best campaigns are those that make interactions and connections between the everyday users better (impressions+). More meaningful, more interesting and more about 'us'. You and I.

Recent research suggests that, for many of us, our identity is chiefly linked with our friends and what they think about us. For many of us it's becoming more about what you share, link to and post rather than what you share offline.

"You are what you tweet" I guess?

RT @rene "I post therefore I am"

And if your brand has something great to share, something that adds value to people's lives, this is where the focus should be:

How can you add to people's lives and their connections with one another in a meaningful (if fleeting) way?

One example of enriching connections through social media is the new Rapstar game by Def Jam.

It's a (baggy trousered) Movement.

The best feature of this game is how social you can make it.

Solo kareoke is pretty crap but get some friends together and it's a party. If Hip Hop is your thing this is gonna be huge for you. You can share your rhymes through Facebook and get your people to bump you up the game rankings. You can 'battle' with people through twitter.


Maybe the new formula is more like:

(simply) content = shares = revenue

This is the challenge I set myself: Make it worthy of the share.

Oct 3, 2010

Trading Places on Facebook.

Facebook Places was released in Australia on September 30.

Australian users can now opt-in to the application and share their location with friends much like Foursquare and Gowalla have been letting us do for some time. In light of privacy concerns the default setting is 'friends only'.

Facebook said Places would enable "serendipitous meetings" between friends who are near each other.

Stanley and Livingstone. Early inspiration for Places.

The U.S. launch was met with some expert concerns about 'Facebook Stalking' and the popular theory that Facebook represents some Orwellian threat to our individuality and privacy. Sensational reactions to new Facebook features are pretty common. There seems to be a constant tension between what users are comfortable with and where the service wants to take us. It's nothing new.

I've been a fan of applications that address the 'where' of social media for a while. If you're dashing about its often too much trouble to engage with your various networks more deeply than "I'm here (X)".

If you say: "I'm at the pool" people know what's happening for you. There's often no need to share how cool the water is, why you love floating on your back or what colour your towel is. If people know you a little they can fill in the blanks.

The interesting thing is, how Places (or Foursquare or Gowalla for that matter) will change our lives in coming years. The Facebook team has grand plans for how we will be using the application and the service at large.

Imagine being at the pool and checking in using Places.

Imagine being told which of your friends are there today and being fed photos of their recent trips to the pool in a combined album.

Imagine getting a feed to the tracks they listen to at the pool and to conversations auto-tagged with all pool updates by your friends.

Imagine being given a record of your swimming training over the past month and tips for today (through linking Places and any of the fitness apps you use). You may even want to see how many laps your friends are swimming (or not swimming).

You get the idea.

The way Facebook is linking up our own, and our shared experiences online, I can only see our networks of friends enjoy richer and deeper connections on Facebook.

I'll be excited to see how developers make use of it over coming months. Third party applications like Mob Zombies for the iPhone (based on Foursquare) can be a lot of fun.

Mmmmm, local brains.

With the data contained in our Facebook networks the potential for new and exciting ways to use it through Places will be huge.

More at a later date on how brands are using Places in Australia but in the meantime, if you're using Places, let me know what you think.

Sep 12, 2010

Angry Birds was fun but where is the real business??

Having a laugh at another funny comic on The Oatmeal the other day got me wondering about mobile applications and how they really are still in their infancy.

The gist of the strip was that while we fork out our cash readily for mobile devices, data plans, accessories and so on we spend little on apps. Why is this the case?

For other hardware we gladly spend on software. In fact it's a necessity in most cases. I'd suggest it's because most apps don't offer much utility in our lives.

If you have a smartphone you might have five or ten apps that you use regularly. They help you stay in touch with friends and networks, manage your day-to-day and provide a bit of fun. Most of what is out there is fluff though.

$4.99 for this app? Yup, I'm angry. Where's the lite version?

I suspect we may be on the cusp of something bigger in the application market though.

The value of application downloads in 2010 is expected to be $6.2 billion. This will be for almost 4.5 billion applications though. That's about $1.37 per application. Total downloads will more than triple by 2013 and be worth $29.5 billion in sales. The interesting thing is, 87% of those are expected to be free downloads (Up from 82% this year). The average cost of apps will rise to about $2.70 in 2013.

I think if apps (for phones and tablets) are to grow share of wallet with consumers they need to become more indispensable to us. I'd be thrilled if they can find a better way to sync with the other tech in our lives and do some of the thinking for us.

I'd be happy to pay $10 or more for apps that make a real difference in my life. And there is potential at the top end of the app market.

Outside of work hours I'm quite happy to chug along with little thought to what needs to get done. I'd love a series of apps to take charge and get things done for me during the week. An app to pay all my bills and handle any admin type emails? Great. If I never have to speak to another call centre or bpay another bill I'd gladly pay $20 for the application.

One that organises meals for me each week? Sweet - I'm feeling kinda tex mex/Spanish this week. Maybe ingredients for three meals plus a night out with Facebook friends in my tex mex group? Pina Coladas on Friday night would be nice. Up to you phone app - sort it out for me.

$20 for iMeal? Glad to pay it.

Phone, you know I love Taco Tuesday.

The interesting thing is, it looks like Apple might not be distributing these apps to us.

They have been the leader in mobile applications for a while now but research suggests that could rapidly change. Mashable recently looked at Appcelerator, a development platform, and asked about the breakdown of its app development:

"As of right now, 70% of apps are still created for the iPhone and 30% are for Android. There is also a growing slice of developers who create an app for both platforms.While iPhone development is still the first stop for most developers, Android is quickly becoming the second platform."
In fact, recent research by Gartner suggests that Android will be the dominant mobile OS by 2014. Symbian and Android will share the majority of the market with about a third each while Apple will own only 14% of the space.

It's going to be an interesting jostle among the big players. Maybe Apple will maintain a niche for the best, most user friendly apps and leave Nokia and Android to duke it out for the largest share of mobile customers?

I'm not fussed who gains the acendency, so long as the ingredients for a Pina Colada are in my (internet) fridge on Friday night.

Aug 24, 2010

Not just for cheeky chicks and knickers

A couple of weeks back I saw some pretty rough interactive video 'games' and also a trailer using interactive for Scott Pilgrim vs The World.

Not bad I thought, can't wait to see it used well.

Some others have been tinkering with it as well. Shop Hot & Crowded from Mineappolis have gone with an effective (and obvious) idea to sell women's clothes (to their blokes?).

This really is a killer way to reach people for so many reasons.

Imagine placing one of these clips in front of a customer at just the right time in the marketing funnel? It's just such a tantalising prospect.

We know in Australia that the vast majority of purchase decisions are researched online beforehand. A tasty little product clip where you let consumers bring their desired product to life would be perfect during a customer's product research. Automotive, Travel, Accomodation and Homebuilding all immediately come to mind as perfect categories for this tool.

I used to love Choose Your Own Adventure books as a kid. Remember the ones where you got to pick a twist in the story and turn to that page? Same idea here for sharing content about your brand.

If your website has a little budget for this why not create a short film or narrative around one of your products, staff or brand ambassadors?

Lets look at a Harley Davidson motorcycles as an example. Harley riders, or HOGs, would have dozens of rides in their mind that they remember and treasure over the years. Why not bring some of these rides to life online using interactive video.

How cool would it be for their website to select your model of Harley, spec it out and then choose one of 10 classic American routes to trial it on. You get to choose your bike, your kit, your route (corner by corner) and so on.

It need not be a long video - just enough to make the real product tangible for the consumer. The smell of petrol in their nose, hot sun on the bitumen and the wind on their face.

Easy peasey.

The conversion to sales on these clips is going to be so much better than current product video on home pages, YouTube channels and Facebook.

We could talk banner ads too but - another time.

I can't wait to see how interactive video evolves over the next six months. You can be sure people are producing some great applications of the technology right now.

How are you going to use it?

Aug 3, 2010

Film is so much more than celluloid

I got the chance to spend a day last week with some very clever people working in Transmedia at the Melbourne XMediaLab. It's easy to think with the way marketers are connected these days that we are across most things in no time at all.

We couldn't be more wrong.

I was excited and surprised to see that particular media industries and pockets of the world are using emerging and traditional media in concert to devastating effect and shaping... [clash of cymbals] THE FUTURE!!

The Future!!

Here are just some of the developments, projects and approaches that got the hairs on the back of my neck standing up:

Demand Media and trending words

It's so simple and such an elegant idea. You monitor trending words across all online media, create content based on these words and then hang ads around it. It's that easy. Gavin McGarry from Jumpwire Media in NYC showed me how entreprenuers are using the model, and teams of scruffy copywriters, to mould (what he calls) the future of content.

Video is king in 2013

Predictions are that 64% of mobile content in 2013 will be video.

News sites, social platforms and other media are already groaning with as much video as they can find. As bittorrent and apps like Vuze show us, if you are not creating video content as a priority today you will be further and further behind your competition tomorrow.

Stuff like 'Ask Shane' will be how we share, learn and communicate. It still is the new media.

Product beta in advance

As the film and gaming kids know, if you have a great idea that will go to market, start talking to your audience now. Use everything at your disposal to create the environment that your product will be launcehd into. Why try and mould the market and sentiment toward the product post-launch when you can do it months or years beforehand?

Here's an example from the pre-marketing for The Dark Knight shared by Lisa Gray from The Feds

Fucking A.

Sharing content for nothing and making money in the process

Jarod Green, the creator of Beached Az and head of The Hansomity Institute shared his model for creating ace content, sharing it with your mates and making a return to keep things ticking along. His self-deprecating NZ patter did not conceal the fact that this guy is super-smart and he can work the model well.

For Beached Az they spent about $16 (NZ), shared it with their mates and then saw it take off from there. After a million views on Youtube they decided they should draw out some $$$ from it.

They now create content and share it for free, seed it properley and then collect revenue from merchandise, selling the product on to TV and rolling it along. They re-invest proceeds in their next 'free' project.

Easy (if you're good).

The content around your product can be more popular than the product

James Franklin from Pixeco gave a great account of how their transmedia around one documentary release created unexepected 'heros' in the campaign. PR and media was a huge part of the pre-buzz for their film The End of the Line.

Amazingly, they found one of their widgets that helped people determine which fish were sustainably fished and OK to eat had 750,000 users in no time. Be useful and relevant to people with your content and they will reward you. The film did OK too.

Your phone will organise your life

You thought it already did? Pleased with your iPhone 4 or HTC Desire?

Think about a time in the near future where you won't be inputting into your phone but the reverse.

Imagine your phone organises your day, your clothing, your food, where you go, what your car and house does... everything. The technology is available and phones will be at the front of technology that fades into the background and does more for us while being less obtrusive.

 Morgan Jaffitt loves this stuff and you can bet he'll be making it happen here in Oz.

Immersive media strategies are the way forward

And not just for film. If you think we're clever for working across multiple channels here in Australia we have nothing on what they do in the U.S.

Jeff Gomez, the CEO of Starlight Runner showed me how transmedia in the States is creating deeply immersive worlds around stories such as Avatar, Tron and Pirates of the Caribbean. In essence the story told by any good film is only a part of what can be explored.

With the technology, media and audiences orbiting around projects we can tell stories for generations, not just for a season at the Multiplex. If you have something to share with an audience, something they can help build on, all you need to do is create the parts that fit and watch the audience/users put the pieces together in new and amazing ways.

So, I have a head full of new ideas and some projects I want to try them on. THE FUTURE!! is what we make so...

What are you going to make today?

Jul 21, 2010

Don't screw up Ford! Give Jason the 2011 Explorer!

Ford U.S. are doing a great job building the hype for their 2011 Explorer model on Facebook.

The page has some great product vids, a healthy amount of discussion and 25 minutes ago they had collected 30,000 'likes' and will now give one of the cars away.

30,000. That's a pretty healthy number for them.

Facebook tells us the average user has 130 friends so (potentially) 3.9 million knew somebody likes the 2011 Explorer. 

Jason Sider probably doesn't like the 2011 Explorer.

He started a topic on the discussion board about 3 weeks ago proclaiming "Don't screw up FORD!" The thread has 35 posts since he posted his concerns about the "... cameras.....sensors....fuel control dewhickys.....this or those hocus pocus little black boxes," that he feels detract from the essence of a Ford.

He obviously cares about the brand. 

I read a great blog post recently that put Social Media moderation very simply:

"... amplify the affection, creatively disarm the reasonably disgruntled, and ignore the unhinged."
Jason's concerns are quite reasonable - if colourfully put. I'd love to see Ford respond with a touch of panache and, at the least, get Jason down to a dealership to try the new model. He just might like it. He just might buy one.

In fact, let's see Ford give Jason Sider the 2011 Ford Explorer!!

Give Jason the car!

It's easy to get caught up in the excitement of new media and perhaps miss some of the detail of what is  happening in your campaign. I really think these small side stories and footnotes can be better handled and  allow organisations and people to really demonstrate their passion for what they do.

Some of the best brand stories come about when you can encourage the disaffected to take another look at who you are. I love winning people over and I think Social Media makes it so easy to do. Lets hope Ford agrees...