Friday, 31 October 2008

Thursday, 30 October 2008

Dialing under the influence: genius mobile service

I'm loving this new service from Virgin Mobile Australia to prevent, what they call: "dialing under the influence" or DUTI. It's a brilliant PR-generated initiative [I imagine] the awareness of which will spread rapidly via social media. Hopefully to reach good old Blighty in time for it to be introduced for the Xmas season - the time when I imagine most people fall victim to DUTI. 

The way it works is that you dial 333 plus the number that you don't want to dial when you are drunk. Virgin then block all calls to that number to 6am the following morning. Genius.

I remember in my distant past, when I didn't have to be taken home after two halves, this service would have saved me a lot of embarrassment, but probably lessened my creative story telling ability.

Monday, 27 October 2008

Social media: it's not about measurement, it's about predicting impact

For the past 2 months in my new job, I've been struggling to prove the value of social media to skeptical clients. I've been trying to use measurement techniques to prove that social media can have a positive impact on brands. You may have spotted my schoolboy error already, but it wasn't until I read this post that it dawned on me, in a Homer 'doh!' like way that:

You can't prove the impact of a campaign just by measuring stuff

Ok, I can take the measurements of past campaigns and predict, with a reasonable degree of inaccuracy, how many posts, uploads, comments, etc a social media campaign will produce. I can even employ the intelligence of people like Radian6, Sentiment Metrics and Andiamo to work out sentiment, engagement levels and favourability. Which is nice.

However, that means SFA to a hard-bitten FMCG marketing director [as I found out recently]. They just want to know 'how will it impact my bottom line?'. Or, as I got told recently: "prove to me it will help me sell more product and I'll look at seriously".

Which is a reasonable enough question. And one I'm going to try and answer in the next two months. 

My dream is to develop some kind of modelling software that predicts the following:

I know there is much more to it than this simple four step process, but being able to prove the link between Outcomes [no. of posts, comments etc] to Impacts [enquiries, sales leads], would be a major starting point.

So my mission, and I have chosen to accept it, is to persuade the extremely smart guys in our data dept [and very handsome, stylish, witty and urbane, if you are reading, data dudes] to spend some time and effort collating sales data from clients and building predictive models that link these two steps.

Unless, of course, somebody far smarter and dedicated that I am, has already done this? Please?

Sunday, 26 October 2008

What happens to social media in a recession?

I'm in two minds about what happens to marketing communications' spend in a recession:
  1. Companies stick to tried and tested mainstream strategies e.g. TV, print and outdoor, but cut back on the amount they do.
  2. Or, they spend their hard earned cash on something that is utterly measurable and controllable e.g. Pay Per Click, search, online display ads.
With option one, you are unlikely to get fired for doing what has always worked. However, when things are tight and customers aren't spending as freely, your traditional campaign needs to be pretty darn good to get people's attention and subsequently their wallets. So, you could argue, doing the same as you've always done will give poorer returns in a recession. Which might not be good. 

Which leaves option 2. It makes perfect sense to spend your marketing cash on a strategy that has a high degree of control and measurability e.g. PPC.

Alternatively, and not to appear too schizophrenic with three minds on the subject, you can talk to your customers where they hang out and retain some of the measurability [but very little of the control]. By this I mean social media.    

OK, 'social media is great in a recession, says social media bloke' is hardly a 'by Jove, he's got it!' moment. But, there were two facts I saw recently that made me think, social media could get a lot more attention in a recession:
  1.  I saw that Jeremiah Oywang at Forrester had posted about the adoption of social media being on the increase. In the US, 75% of online adults can now be reached through social media. He even had a graph.
2. The other was a report by Technorati that blogging had become mainstream.
[The third, but probably not as strong, was my mum asking me what is a good blog to read].

Call me Taggart, but it seems to me that 
a) more and more people are using social media than ever before
b) people in a recession get more skeptical of marketing messages and so turn to real people for buying information
c) the majority of social media is online and so it is easier [slightly] to measure
d) the brands that do something innovative will stand out and so are more likely to get a larger share of wallet.

So, to answer the question, I think social media will get a lot more attention in the next few months as brands look for innovative ways to reach their audiences. However, only the brands that do it in an authentic, transparent, honest way will be successful.

Thursday, 23 October 2008

McCain v Obama Dance off

Genius vid of a presidential dance off. Things like this make me love social media.

Tuesday, 21 October 2008

Pop Up Communities

Have been reading about the social media phenomena of pop-up communities. These are short lived gatherings of people around a particular topic, event or social object. Good post on it here that uses the World Cup as an example. 

Reminds me of school and when a fight started people would gather round chanting
 'fight! fight! fight!'
i.e. a community would pop up around the 'social object' of the 8th hardest kid in school challenging the 7th hardest for a chance to move up the table.  Does this count as an early incarnation of a pop up community?

I can also see it happening around football matches and people using Twitter. As I'm writing this, I'm watching the Man U Champions League game [not a Man U fan btw] and 3 of the people I follow on Twitter are providing blow by blow accounts of the Arsenal Fenerbace game. 
I imagine that Arsenal, with a bit of effort, could use Twitter to create 90 minute Pop Up communities around games. I know if Middlesbrough [sadly, the team I follow] did this, I'd definitely get involved and probably end up clicking on any ads served by the Boro Twitter feed  and buying loads of replica shirts, mugs and branded nodding dogs. 

Or maybe I should start a fight at work to test the theory of school fights being an early form of pop up communities. 

Monday, 20 October 2008

Beeb sources stories from Social media

BBC news' move to source stories from social media has paid off. Siobhan Courtney is two weeks into the role and has already broken two major stories: student initiation rites and Terminal 5 workers not being security checked.  

Yet another reason for us PR types to be looking at social media as a way of getting our stories out.

But, I can't help thinking that any stories created by brands will not get the same treatment as these two from the Beeb. It's the authenticity of discovering stories that makes these two newsworthy. Reckon, we just need to bear that in mind when embarking on social media strategies.

Sunday, 19 October 2008

Social media TV

A new service from CBS in the States looks very much like 'Social TV.' TechCrunch have posted a good description here. 

In essence, it's On Demand TV with online Chat. The idea being that you watch a show and Chat to other people watching or comment on the show.

I'm not sure it's for me but I can see fans of particular programmes really getting into it - shows that have a cult following that get loads of people talking about plot intricacies, character personalities etc. Dr Who, Star Trek, Buffy, all leap to mind.

However, I'm not sure it's something new. MTV have had something similar since 2006 in MTV Flux.  On Flux, you create a profile, then Chat to other members while watching music videos. You can even influence a playlist and I think you can get your image on the MTV channel while a vid is playing. 

Still, it could be used for clever-ish  marketing to fans. For example, if a bunch of people are watching Dr Who in the Social Viewing Room [as CBS call it], the programme owners could get immediate feedback on the show, get opinions on plot developments and even give info on products in the show. I for one would love to know where David Tennant gets his suits [I think it's these guys, but not positive]. 

Thursday, 16 October 2008

Social media curve of non adoption

Saw this graph showing the stages of social media [non] adoption on Chris's blog. I think he got it from David Armano. Anyhoo, it's genius. The amount of times I've been through this process, I'm now glad someone has made 'social media frustration' a scientific phenonema.


Wednesday, 15 October 2008

Upside down dogs are hilarious

I couldn't stop laughing when I saw this site [credit to Jonathan for finding it]

It's got photos of the hilarious


And the downright scary

Ugly Overload

I sooooooo want a dog. Mr Tester [my landlord], if you reading this, please, please, please, please can we get one. I know you are allergic, but we'll hoover lots. 

Tuesday, 14 October 2008

Japanese mobile phone concierge service

I saw a post about this cool/unusual service in Japan on PSFK. It's a mobile counseling service where you text in your problem and get anonymous advice, called MyCounselor
Am really not sure about this, but maybe I'm just too old fashioned. What's the cliche? You can't stand in the way of progress? 

Monday, 13 October 2008

Win a trip to space [kinda] with Norton

My old client, Symantec, is running a competition to win a trip to space - well nearly space; it's a 62 mile high sub orbital flight, if you want to be technical about. [Russia doesn't recognise sub orbital flights as space flights, apparently.]
Still, it's a pretty cool prize and the closest most of us mere mortals will get to 'boldly go etc'.   

The idea behind the initiative is to promote the speed of the new Norton software, hence the slightly cheesy heading: 'Blast off with Norton'. I think there may be a clever link around zero impact software [software that doesn't slow your machine down] and zero gravity, but I can't be sure. [The Cupertino cunning-ness often went over my head.] Both of which are good messages, as the 2006 software made your machine slower than my dad's old Allegro.

Also, the new software looks pretty good [assuming it does what it says on the tin], so it's a shame the UK crowd at Symantec didn't do anything more creative with the entry mechanic. For a trip into near-space, you could be talking sci-fi short story competitions, photo comps on Flickr of papier-mache space-ships, best alien impressions on Youtube etc. Rather than just enter your details and we'll put them into a hat [or helmet].   

As I used to represent Symantec, the chances of me winning are smaller than an Icelander's savings account, so I won't be entering, sadly.  But for any budding Buzz Aldrin's out there, it's definitely worth a punt. 

Sunday, 12 October 2008

Trying out a new blog search tool: iterend

I spotted iterend, a new blog search tool, on mashable where they compared it to Google Blog Search and Technorati. Mashable says that Technorati is still top dog. 
I had a play with it and it wasn't bad. I like the fact you can set date ranges for your search and I like the topic cloud it brings up. However, it still brings up loads of irrelevant results and, like Technorati and Google Blog Search, you can't search by country. Plus, it seems to bring up loads of threads in forums rather than keeping it focused on blogs.

Like all the blog search tools, it's not perfect but its a handy tool. I still prefer BlogCatalogue for identifying relevant blogs due to it's country of origin labels.

Thursday, 9 October 2008

D-Face launch: seriously cool

This is one of those things that I think 'I wish I was there'. D Face's launch in Shoreditch of Apocalypse.

Flickr stream here

Monday, 6 October 2008

Two kids dancing in the aisle at Aldi

I came across this brilliant video when I was analysing Aldi's presence in social media. I know it's just two kids doing an eccentric dance in an Aldi store, but there is something about it that strikes me as pure genius. I think it's the fact that they've just done it for a laugh - not necessarily to look good or show off. Plus the guy in the hoodie is quite good. See what you think.

Sunday, 5 October 2008

Measuring social media

Probably the most debated, and most perplexing, issue in social media at the mo, is how do you measure a campaign. Paul F has some good thoughts on it and the crowd involved in social media measurement camp have been making some great headway. 

For me, the slightly more pressing issue is 
"how do you convince a client of the value of engaging in a social media campaign"
 - particularly a client who isn't familiar with social media, [or one that thinks Facebook will lead to your website getting hacked.]

I guess it's the same kinda thing as measurement, but usually put in a more blunt way i.e. 
"how does social media help me sell more stuff?"

I reckon if you can answer this question in 30 seconds with geeking-out massively, then you are onto a winner, and are a better man than I am. [When I say 'answer', I also mean prove]. 

This is as far as I've got:
social media = engagement = favourability = likelihood to buy
It's not scientific and at the moment I can't prove the correlation. But, I'm getting a bit farther with the middle bits [engagement = favourability].

The tool I've been having most success with is Radian 6. Using simple boolean search [like Google] it allows you to measure stuff like:
  • Volume of buzz - how many posts in different media from blogs to forums and MSM [mainstream media] via what they call a River of News. 
  • Engagement level - by measuring on topic posts and comments.
  • Buzz topics - what's being talked about in relation to your brand.
The nifty thing about Radian 6 is it allows you create powerpoint friendly images of the analysis. Here's one I prepared earlier that shows the volume of buzz around Asda and three search terms:
Plus, you can produce word clouds of all the things being said about a brand:

I guess the only draw back is that it isn't great at filtering by country. If you set it to pick up only UK ones, then it just picks up domains and UK based IP addresses, which excludes lots of UK blogs and forums.  

Still, it allows you to show that your client is being talked about and what's being said.  Plus, you can click through on each post to get a favourability score.  All of which allows you to talk sensibly about a brand's level of engagement. 

I'm sure I've more to learn but Radian 6 seems a good starter for ten.