Wednesday, 25 August 2010

Nice infographic gives perspective on the geo-social world

Hats off to the Jess3 team for yet again rustling up a nice, useful infographic.

Albeit I have to confess that aesthetically I still love the (updated for 2010) Flowtown digital world map. Must be my inner explorer. Can't beat a nice map!

There's also a heap of others worth a peruse through here. Obviously anything with numbers out-dates pretty quickly and just because things look pretty doesn't necessarily mean that they are robust (given people are quite quick to trust things on the web) so think for yourself but....

Tuesday, 24 August 2010

Marshmallows & the art of prototyping

I just tripped over this TED talk on creativity, problem solving and the role of prototyping in design, whether that's designing structures, social experiences, games or products. It's a point that was underlined well in a very interesting book I read recently from the IDEO guys: The Ten Faces of Innovation.

Worth a few minutes of your time.

Beach-vertising: There really is no escape

Before my hols are too distant a memory, I thought I'd better post these pics.  It seems there really is no escape. The perils of working in marketing and advertising I suppose. I studiously and successfully avoided digital, tv, radio and press, barely encountered any outdoor, and only limited in-store.  So where did they get me?

At the beach!

If you can't reach people by traditional channels, I'm the first to advocate going off-piste. It's the age old principles of traditional mass reach - find where the people are and interrupt them there. In this case, when it's blistering hot outside and everyone is seeking respite via the breeze by the water, that means catching them in creative ways.

Route 1) was the moving billboard / flyer technique for a pop-up store event :
Advantages: Employing eye-candy to sport said moving billboards / deliver flyers leads to pleasant associations with message delivery.
Limitations - easy to miss if you were enjoying that essential siesta, having a swim or had your nose in a book.

 Route 2) - ye olde drag-a-banner-behind-a-plane-flying-over-the-beach technique. Arguably this is outdoor but not of the sold by JC Decaux variety.  Employed in this case by retailers such as IKEA and LIDL and an assortment of local bars, clubs and other attractions.
Advantages: reached people in places other media could not.
 Limitations: I rarely wear my contact lenses to the beach so often hard to read the message! Being honest, it might have been home improvement week at Lidl but it was escape from such responsibilities of daily life I was after.

Still, points awarded for trying, and if nothing else it served as brand awareness prompts.

Coke Israel bring location to Facebook (before Facebook did!)

Just tripped over this interesting example from Coke Israel who ran a summer camp style event at which participants were issued with a wristband with an RFID chip embedded that enabled auto-posting of what activities they got up to at the event & auto-tagging of  themselves in photos.

Arguably this is Facebook Places without the requirement to check-in via mobile & occurred ahead of Facebook Places launching but it illustrates quite well the scope location /technology can add.  Without question it also highlights some of the concerns over privacy and sharing too (read the comments below the video if you choose to watch it on YouTube rather than here), but presumably the teen participants were made aware of how the thing worked given that the chip contained their Facebook login data so they must have agreed to making that available.

Diesel created something similar with Facepark -an offline Facebook-esque experience

Friday, 20 August 2010

Benetton uses Foursquare to promote store re-launch event

Last night I was finishing a post on Facebook Places & Location Based Services (LBS) when I noticed that the flagship Benetton store at Oxford Circus (London) was using Foursquare to promote a store event. Had I been following their Twitter stream I'd have heard about it rather than tripping over it.

Curious digital womble that I am, as it was only down the road I thought I'd go and investigate as it's the first time I've noticed:

a) Foursquare featuring "special" places (as it was flagged if you look closely at the image) and

b) any major brand using Foursquare in this way (in the UK at any rate, there are lots of examples floating around, mostly from the US, including GAP offering a 25%  discount if you checked-in to one of their stores this week (not sure if it's US only or global, not tried).

Walking into the store, there was a buzzy chaos - masses of people queuing for photoshoots, and waiters walking around with trays of drinks. I checked in.

I admit I initially missed this single piece of Foursquare signage directing me to the first floor. So I  asked a member of staff, showing her my check in  and she was nice but clearly hadn't been briefed at all or had the foggiest clue what FourSquare was, but eventually she just sent me upstairs suggesting I ask someone up there where it was a little less chaotic.

Upstairs, I finally found a member of the store management who equally wasn't really clued about the Foursquare promotion, even though I later discovered she was standing about 10 feet from this, the only other piece of instore signage I could see....

That said,  she was very nice and after showing her my check-in screen and explaining she handed over the goody-bag that everyone else got if they bought something (which inevitably I did later anyway).

I didn't quite go as far as a "haul" video (watch this as a randomly selected example),that I know are all the rage but here's what it contained:
  • A (branded) fold up re-usable shopping bag (nice eco touch, & very handy)
  • A bottle of Benetton Woman perfume (generously full size even!)
  • A Benetton mug
  • Some stickers
  • An eye mask
  • A lanyard
  • Some multi-coloured felt-tip pens
  • A magazine highlighting the results of web-based casting competition they ran earlier in the year to find the faces of the Fall/Winter 2010/11 product advertising (more on that shortly)

I'm not much of a clutter-junkie, but I recognise that some thought (and value) had gone into the contents, and for doing nothing more than heading into store and checking in, you'd have to be pretty cynical not to appreciate the freebies.

How successful was the Foursquare initiative?

Good question, I was there just before 8pm, and my Foursquare screen showed that 19 people (+me) had checked-in over the last 2 hours. Arguably it could be a greater number than that, as not everyone chooses to make their check-ins visible, and who knows whether they were just the geeky & curious or whether like me they came out having spent the best part of £100 in store as well.

Those are not big numbers, and it's impossible to guess at how many went purely as a result of seeing that "special" flag when they went to check-in to somewhere else nearby.Then again if that was 20 more people who potentially wouldn't have gone in otherwise, and walked out with something free that made them feel good about the brand, (everyone loves free stuff as we all know) and/or had spent money instore,  that has to be worth something, although I wonder how much they had to pay Foursquare?

Assuming at least some of those people link their Foursquare account to Twitter +/or Facebook then there's also a fair chance that the" Fiona checked in at United Colours of Benetton" type messages will have reached a fair few others via organic impressions through featuring in Facebook news/tweetstreams, which may only have served as a mental nudge or a brand endorsement to those friends/followers seeing the message, which is impossible to attribute hard ROI to, but again has to count for something.

Nice try Benetton. It's good to see brands experimenting in new spaces.

Back to the "It's my time" Benetton Global casting competition then...  I'd seen it earlier in the year and admittedly promptly forgotten about it. I'd much rather be behind the camera than in front!

The magazine in my goody bag showcased the initiative, the results and the winners

  • 5-6 week campaign which ran Feb-mid-March 2010
  • Asked people to upload images / videos answering the questions"who are you, what makes you unique" & a chance to feature as one of the faces of the a/w product advertising.
  • 65k people from over 210 countries entered
  • 40k+ women (almost twice as many as men)
  • 17k teenagers
  • 35k 20-30 somethings
  • 8k 30+'s
  • Over 5 million comments on the blog in 5 weeks 
  • Initiative supported on MTV & with print ads with Augmented Reality feature
  • The community voted for the Top 100 submissions, and the final 20 winners selected by an expert panel
I think the who entered stats are revealing and interesting. The digital age divide between digital native and digital immigrants isn't black and white, but these figures still suggest how much more comfortable & prepared to participate and contribute the sub 30's are on the whole.

I should think Benetton are pretty pleased with their efforts and the results.

Rather a shame though that the last post on the blog was from July, because it seems like they've built up a relationship, however loose, with a lot of people putting their hand up and saying they are interested in the brand, and Benetton are now just letting it flail.  These initiatives are great, but they need thinking about beyond the defined period they are designated as "live" for.

As my friend John Wilshire wrote in a great thought piece this week it's not about creating short shelf life ideas anymore, but about ideas that contribute to the company / brand purpose whilst maintaining both an ability to evolve in a relevant fashion, and, provide a reason for people to participate / talk about them. (And that's an extremely short and horribly overly simplistic way to describe John's great article so I'd highly recommend you mosey over and read it.)

Thursday, 19 August 2010

Facebook *finally* joins in the location based services arena

Facebook have finally launched their own "check-in" facility.

iPhone/Facebook users in the US woke up this morning to find that they could shout out to all their friends about the fact they were picking up a skinny-extra-hot-decaf-vanilla-latte at their neighbourhood coffeeshop on the way to work. *Yawn*. Or, see who else was there too [official Facebook video], (forgive my English sense of humour but who are these sad people??).  Try looking back at the queue! Or call/text/BBM/IM/Email and arrange to meet them first. Crazy!

Whilst there's been lots of speculation over the last few days that this will be the death of the two leading existing social network / Location Based Service offerings, Foursquare and Gowalla, Facebook instead announced partnerships with them both (albeit the details still seem a little hazy, especially as you can already shout out about your Foursquare check-ins on your Facebook newsfeed if you are so inclined).

What gives Facebook Places power is largely down to sheer potential scale - 500m+ Facebook members globally. It's also an API so we'll see people experimenting with different uses for it. As a business you can add your pub/restaurant/shop etc to it (and a page), making it easy for people to find it and  "check in" there & therefore generate some organic promotion via the"Fiona checked-in at Reynolds"type messages that will appear in newsfeeds:

It also makes Facebook even more of a global "yellow pages" (gone large, with the added benefit of the tips / accolades / endorsements of people you know who've already been) which will further add weight to the debates about social search, and the potential of a Facebook v Google face off in the fight for advertiser dollars.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said that the point of Places wasn't about shouting about where you are, it was about finding and sharing places, but I'm only partially convinced. For me, I think Places check-in's and broadcasts are likely to be used for "status" (i.e boasting), "badging" (look at the type of places I hang out), ultimately both of which are really just another piece of easy-win, no effort conversation content, in a world where for many if you aren't updating your status you are so off the radar you might as well be invisible.  Fairplay to Facebook then for helping the user solve a problem they organically created in the first place.

If you leave your privacy settings un-amended you'll also find that your iPhone / smartphone-equipped friends can "tag" you as being at places, much as they can in photos, whether you wanted them to or not, so I'd suggest that you amend your privacy settings. (Here's how). Better to avoid the chaos that could potentially be caused by a mischievous (if innocent) mate checking you in with them at a pub (in status terms that could arguably be construed as them boasting about their popularity) when you'd told your girlfriend/boyfriend etc that you were working late and you'd be back ASAP.


The Places service & API are due to be rolled out internationally soon, so whilst this might not effect you right now it soon will. In the interim that gives the rest of us a little time to see who's doing interesting marketing experiments leveraging Facebook Places and learn & improve on them.

Meanwhile, here's an example I've literally just spotted on FourSquare to start making all this location based marketing stuff a little more tangible:

Benetton's London flagship store has a FourSquare promotion on right now (the first of this kind I've noticed). Note the "special" flag" on the first image, and the offer of free stuff if you check inbefore 8pm today.  Talking of which I'd better go home that way and check it out!

YouTube launch video charts..

You've been able to see what's most popular now etc for a while,  but YouTube have now launched a video chart so you can check out what's been most viewed / liked / subscribed to today / this week / ever.

So having had a play about.... the 3 most viewed videos on YouTube, with a staggering 390,716,462 views are someone young, someone not so young, and something cute and fluffy......

The much-lauded (in advertising circles) T-Mobile dance at Liverpool Street staggers in at a mere #29, beaten by a broad assortment of music videos plus the odd obligatory cat-doing-something-daft offering.

Wednesday, 18 August 2010

Tuesday, 17 August 2010

Nice mash up of old and new

I'll admit it, I LOVE West Side Story, so you could argue that I was either going to love this mashed-contemporary cut-down version, or hate it for messing with Mr Bernstein's work.  As it happens, I think it's been done rather well, a modern [digital] love story to an edited version of a classic one.

It won't appeal to everyone, but hey, what's the point of having a blog if you can't go off piste once in a while and post something random just 'cos you like it?

Facebook to announce location based service development?

The web is a buzz with rumors that Facebook will make an announcement  about location based services tomorrow. Whether they will remains to be seen but with FourSquare / Gowalla reasonably well established now in the LBS / social networking / recommendation / gaming sector, I'd recommend a read of this Techcrunch article.

I've certainly noted a greater number of my digital/ creative buddies wanting to be my friend on FourSquare over the last few weeks. Perhaps it's entirely co-incidental, or perhaps there was lots of UK buzz around it whilst I was on hols. Nonetheless, it will be interesting to see what will happen subject to the Facebook announcement, particularly given that lots of the companies making a play for interaction on FourSquare are US based and there's far less of the promotional incentives for loyalty etc on this side of the pond as yet.

Tracking down prizewinners...

Nice idea I just read about on Springwise from Unilever in Brazil for their washing powder brand Omo. 
GPS tracking devices were inserted in pack and enabled the comms agency to literally track down the prizewinners, mirroring the new formulation of the product which alleges to track down dirt in the wash. Worth 3 mins of your time. Nice to see examples of brands doing brave things and making an effort, albeit it throws up some interesting questions about ethics and privacy.

Monday, 16 August 2010


Shock! Horror! I'm back online. 

Bah Humbug I say to the nay-sayers amongst you who refused to believe I could disconnect from the digital world for a month. I am a stubborn geek with resolve and stamina. Admittedly having spent quite a lot of that time either at sea, or in the sea, both activities that aren't very connection friendly, it really wasn't that tricky.

What did I miss? 

There were a few occasions I'd normally have turned to Facebook to talk about stuff, mostly because sharing our lives has become terribly habitual, (I'll save my rant about the TGV / Eurostar for another day), there were a few occasions when curiosity would have lead me to a search engine, and had I been inclined and prepared to pay for overseas data roaming,  I could probably have added some new venues to FourSquare, and yes I probably should have read my race instructions before getting on the boat last weekend again but I knew I could rely on my crewmates to have done the honours, knowing that I was away, so none of these things were a big enough deal to make me feel I've missed much.  Sure, I will no doubt get around to uploading some pictures to Facebook and Flickr over the next little while, because it is nice to share what you've been up to with friends and family, but overall it's been rather refreshing to be living life in real time rather than reading about real time for a few weeks!

Who knows what's changed in the digital world, I've yet to catch up on a pile of alerts, round-ups and reading, let alone the email boxes stuffed to overflowing, but I'm sure if it was important I'll find out over the next few days.

I think it's a genuinely useful exercise for the geek fraternity to disconnect for a while, it gives you a healthy injection of perspective on how and where digital activity fits into the lives of other people in other places. Big cities and working in the industry distort your view.  Not that that stopped me smiling and making internal mental note when a 70 something friend of mine at the beach, someone whom I've known for over 20 years, whipped out his mobile to take some photos of me. He's not on Facebook (I asked) but he does download pics to his computer and share them via email.  

Nothing changes. Digital's not just for the young or the techy.