Friday, 28 January 2011

100 years in technology - the IBM way..

100 years of corporate reinvention is pretty damn impressive stuff when you think about it, and this video showcases some pretty amazing leaps in technology.

A lot has changed just in my lifetime alone:

First cassette player. 1980

First camera - with 110 film: 1981

First computer I owned. 1984.
(It was an Amstrad with a new fangled disk drive). Wrong choice by my Dad as it turns out in a VHS v Betamax way but... I could still programme simple ping pong games. Got our first VHS that year too.

First cd playing stereo I owned... 1990

It feels like I've had a mobile phone forever, but I was an early adopter having one in 1993.

APS (wide format) 35mm camera: 1997

First digital camera? Bought that in 2003.

Next... A whopping 252kb USB memory stick - bought in Tokyo in 2004.

First (and only) DVD player: 2005  (I do still have a working if rarely used video!)

First & only TV I  have ever bought was an LCD flatscreen in 2005. Rarely turned on either.

First netbook: EeePC in 2008

First smartphone: 2009

First tablet, yes, the iPad 2010

I wonder what will be next on that list?

Wednesday, 26 January 2011

To participate or not to participate that is the question

Brands are beginning to realise that shouting at people via advertising is going to be less and less effective (in many cases). Oh dear, dilemma. It hurts to change the habits of a lifetime! For agencies too, hence the link to Amelia's very cool post on the future of advertising.  The smart bunnies out there have realised or been advised that they need to start curating or facilitating culturally or contextually relevant experiences that deliver advocacy and an always-on trail of hopefully positive left-behind user generated content about that experience. Super.In reality that all means that I'm seeing the next client bandwagons rolling towards me at a pace.

Social media? Pah, we did that last year.

If only I could draw.   I can't,  so words will have to do.

Participation. Content production.

It's not new thinking, but they are becoming the new buzzwords as the client requests roll in more and more frequently. Not that that is necessarily a bad thing. BUT before everyone gets over-excited, it's worth taking a step back and thinking about what motivates consumers to participate, what's the value exchange, and where does your brand fit in the grand scheme of a consumer's busy daily life?

If the value exchange is right, they'll take part, if it's not, they won't or will do so to a lesser degree. Take me personally as a case study:  I got involved with the Orange WinterWarmer Twitter fun over the last few days (see earlier posts), - new case study material was enough to make me take part actively. It wasn't because I am a huge brand advocate of Orange. Far from in fact,  based on a previous experience. The effort involved in participating & recording what happened was easily outweighed by the value and benefit of an interesting story to tell my past and future delegates.

I have a much better opinion of Eurostar, who did actually eventually listen & respond to a problem I had with them last year, yet despite being willing to re-post their latest "lamest excuse" participation based initiative on Facebook (which I have), there's no way I have enough motivation or time to actually get involved.  Making a video in the day and half time limit is just an ask too far relative to my perception of the chances of me winning some Eurostar tickets. (Not that I think the idea behind it is necessarily a bad one).

So with that relative scale of involvement levels in mind, before you go rushing off brainstorming content ideas against that just-in brief,  I would urge you to read a great post from the talented gang at Made by Many, because I've been teaching and preaching this stuff for ages and as they've nicely written it up its inefficient to re-invent sliced bread.

Once you've done that go and read this interesting post from BBH labs (that links to another one worth reading too) on the subject of collaborative consumption.

Then, as I'm aggregating useful and interesting things to read, sit down with a cup of tea and read Wired's recent piece on social commerce.

After which, move on from cups of tea to something stronger and put the pieces together in your head before you even start to tackle another comms planning brief.  I bet the output will be different.

Good, stimulating, thinky stuff!

Friday UPDATE: Well it's 4 hours before the competition closes, there's 12 videos contributed. So following the wisdom of an article I read recently about picking the seemingly less attractive options, chances are you stand a higher chance of winning because  there's likely to be fewer entrants you can do pretty well. Had I had the time to make the video and could galvanise all my various networks to vote my chances of winning would actually be reasonable. The most voted for currently has 1.6k votes.  As ever with these things, if you can get someone sociable and influential to enter and then garner their own networks to leverage then your message gets spun out without you as a brand doing much at all. It's a formula I've seen time and time again now, - think Walkers do us a flavour or the best job in the world campaign by Queensland Tourism. It's simple and it works.

Winter warmer Twitter fun with Orange (part ii)

It would have been rude not to have taken advantage of the live case study opportunity presented by the Orange WinterWarmers activity, so with a little willing help from my colleague Richard, we thought we'd play the game and see what happened:

So we did.... and sometime late afternoon they did indeed turn up in their Winter Warmer branded van

 to give Rich his toasty scarf and a hot chocolate

(Picture kindly taken by my mate @somerandomnerd) who we'd tried to hint might also like a hot chocolate via a subsequent tweet at Orange, but they obviously weren't quite set up for making the most of bigger tactical opportunities to surprise and delight, given that we'd made it clear we were all in the same building).  I think this was a missed  trick. Whilst obviously the principle of sharing and referral made sense, and it wasn't a given that the referee and the recipient were in the same place, following the tweet feed as (what felt like a lot of adland offices started playing), there was a clear opportunity to reach a broader audience with (maybe smaller) surprises, and or potentially thank the referee too.  Yes, it's nice to be altruistic, and in my case, I've now got a brand story to tell delegates but it's even nicer to get recognition for it. All these things are about value exchange: If I do this, what do I get back?

Tweets bubbled along & built throughout the morning

 but took a sudden jump mid afternoon  when  OK magazine with it's 98k followers picked the story up (by which time I think the van route was already reasonably established judging by the confirmation tweets and van location broadcast tweets)...

Which pushed #winterwarmer into the trending list for a while...

And saw tweets hit 50+ / hour which feels pretty respectable given the activity was extremely localised to a tight area of central/eastern London.

Rich, being a very polite well mannered chap, sent an appropriate thank you tweet, as did I, both of which were retweeted by the @Orangethefeed (that's what's called user generated content amplification in the trade!). Incidentally, that's something which Facebook announced yesterday they will be offering a paid for model to enhance.

There were still lots of people requesting winterwarmers as I left the office at 7pm, as RTs got picked up and pushed onwards, yet the @Orangethefeed hadn't sent a tweet since 16.52, which seemed like a bit of a shame on the expectations management front. They started again at 0825 this morning and if via RT rather than pro-actively, are at least being clearer about roughly where they will be in Birmingham today...
My take being that actually they could make better use of  @OrangetheFeed as a comms hub.

That said, Rich got a very lovely woolly scarf in exchange for humouring me and a few tweets. Orange now have 2 blog posts from me alone and I spotted a few others being posted in thanks, plus the pictures of happy recipients tweeted and retweeted so that's  the "show and tell the client look this user generated stuff works"  box ticked. As they're in Birmingham today, and Manchester and Brighton later this week there's also time to finesse and improve the activation learning as they go.

I obviously don't know what the objectives were, but brand interaction, tick, generate buzz, tick, cost of a few scarves and some hot chocolate, a hit squad and a rented van with decals, relative to people touched & conversations generated?:  Probably pretty efficient on ROI relative to the cost of a print campaign or similar, and a heck more human and engaging.

Fun stuff. I enjoyed it, and  I am enjoying watching Birmingham playing today.

Monday, 24 January 2011

Orange: Cheering up cold dark winter days

It's going to take more than a few fun intitiatives to convince me to go back to Orange as a telecoms provider, but I like the effort they put into creating conversation content that adds value, brings a smile and in doing so naturally creates amplification of the message.  So I'm happy to chip in and do my bit and talk about this week's fun "Winter warmers" hit squad activity. Tweet the Winter Warmers Team this week  about a friend with the winter blues and they might come dashing around with these nice toasty scarves and hot chocolate to cheer them up. 

Nice thinking - time limited campaign, clear about being geographically specific (both very practical), on the money in timing terms - the long long awaited January pay day looms for most this week; thematically appropriate,  it's cold and dark as I write this, and, it intrinsically invites you to do something that by definition involves sharing your brand love with more people.

Keep your eyes on the Twitter feed here...

Are checked-in? Where?

you Well according to Foursquare the world picture of people checking in looks like this...
(click to enlarge)

Tuesday, 18 January 2011

Illustrating the inter-web

It's no secret,  like most people I prefer information to data.  In turn that means I appreciate clever manipulation of data into visually attractive and easily digestible information. One of my big forecasts for 2011 is seeing more and more effort made to turn the abundant information being constantly generated all around us into useful, engaging content.

So here's a nice visualisation of the interconnectivity of  the blogosphere I found last week whilst poking around some data mining sites having found this nice round up of 50 examples of interesting data visualisation.

The BBC regularly update this nice representation of the top 100 websites (based on Nielsen data).  I could have posted a big spreadsheet screen grab, but this makes it clear just at a glance.  It's easy to get too obsessed with the detail, but it's not always helpful.

Super-share me

A Yin and Yang post.

The first because it made me laugh, (and cringe), because I do still see far too many "I want a viral" type requests, and anyone that knows me passably well, knows that   "THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS A VIRAL" is a soap box I will shout off ad infinitum. "A viral": Noun. No no no no no.  Interesting, relevant content can be transmitted virally (adverb) but that's it.  So bear this image in mind from a very from a fab collection of ad industry insightful mickey-takes.

 But, granted, given that the un-enlightened masses with limited knowledge of the parts of speech still insist on using "viral" as a term for good content that has resonated and found broad reach, here's a grab (find the interactive version here) from Unruly Media's Viral Spiral charting the increase in sharing and reach of the big, popular pieces of video content 2006 to 2010.

Having seen such rapid rise in broadband penetration over the last 4 years, and with it the pain removed from video streaming; and, the rise of social sharing platforms like Facebook and Twitter the growth in numbers is hardly surprising.  You can compare and contrast someone else's view of the big hitters of 2010 from a brand perspective here.  It's always useful to have these stakes in the ground to refer back to in what I was amused to see referred to as internet archaeology last week. Err, did you mean history?

So for my own internet / digital time capsule purposes alone, here's a look at the web in 2010 in numbers. No doubt I'll be tickling that one with a mouse, or gingerly touching a screen in a year or so, whilst digging for stats.

Facebook stats to start 2011

With my Facebook email address all signed up, rumours of IPO this spring, and global members approaching the 600m mark all being balanced out  with"social media reaching maturity" type posts springing up all over the place, it felt appropriate to share this infographic from online schools that makes all that connection & sharing etc slightly more human. Or if multi-media is more your thing and you can spare a minute or so to get a grasp of scale based on what happens on Facebook in a minute check out the video below.

Wednesday, 12 January 2011

Socially speaking...

It's hard to go to a meeting these days without someone spouting on about social media, and frequently much to my despair, without much understanding of the difference between understanding behaviour and motivations for socially oriented behaviour as opposed to just treating it as a channel.

Get with the programme people.

Question your own behaviour and apply the principles to sense check stuff before you come out with the dull ideas with no purpose or reason to interact with them!  I read a good post earlier entitled using v being social.  Worth a read.

In many ways social media is like a new baby - no instruction manual  included (albeit I am a huge fan of the Haynes baby manual as a gift) .

That said, there are organisations out there that are beginning to get the hang of behaving appropriately in the space or at least make attempts to set some guidelines as to how to do it, which is a good starting point. I found an interesting collection for thought starters here.


Lessons to be learned

I'm seeing a lot of attempts to formulate processes and frameworks for approaching the socially networked, constantly connected world, which is quite entertaining given the increasing personalisation of our "news" channels, where we all define what we consider to be important.  Putting structures around the organic seems counter-intuitive but adopting a pattern based planning approach can help facilitate sharing of best practice and create a means of achieving relevance and scale, which like it or not, will continue to be important to big organisations even if their definitions of scale inevitably have to shift.

That said, it could also end up in horribly formulaic and predictable, innovation and creativity-killing disasters.


With that sentiment in mind, here's a great parody video of an ad agency industry award entry video made by a Canadian agency with a great sense of humour and acute insight.  Made all the more hilarious for me because I re-launched My Little Pony when I was working for Hasbro in the late 90s. Had we lived in a constantly connected world, so much of this could so easily have been reality.  Enjoy.

It's life Jim, but not as we knew it: The world as we start 2011...

I liked this clear, simple articulation of the bigger context we all live in.  Well worth 2 minutes of your time to flick through and then 5 minutes to ponder upon where you personally fit it to it and the consequences for your brand or business in the bigger picture.

Wednesday, 5 January 2011

LEGO: Open ended creativity

I used to work with The LEGO Company, I still have friends that do. Somehow I'll never be able to write LEGO in anything but capital letters (as it should be) ever again. They were fun times on so many levels and only those who have experienced night after night on business trips to LEGO HQ in the Hotel LEGOLAND bar in Billund, Denmark (complete with full sized LEGO man "playing" one of those magic electric grand pianos) will ever really understand quite how far the definition of fun can be stretched.  You know who you are ;-)

Quirky but endlessly creative company that they are, there is no denying that their products inspire young minds across the world to go on and use the product in a myriad of creative ways. Doing the rounds on Twitter this week has been a meme of the "12 coolest LEGO music videos", which shows you some uses for LEGO that I bet you didn't see on Christmas Day as boxes were ripped apart scattering small bricks everywhere for you to stand on later :-)

 There's a rich selection to cater for a wide range of music tastes if you follow the link above , but I'll offer you one here and now: