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Transparency Is a Means, Not an End

July 29, 2011

Two restaurants, two campaigns. Both are aimed at “redefining the brand.” Both use transparency as a campaign tactic, showing the real people and the real processes that go into making their food.

So why is Domino’s campaign so engaging and Red Lobster’s so boring?

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Oh Boy, Another Way to Video Chat

July 7, 2011

I still remember an interesting interview I had back in 2008 with a tech entrepreneur named Yanda Erlich. Yanda had just launched a service called SocialIM, an instant-messaging app that worked within the Facebook platform and co-opted your Facebook Friends list.

We talked a lot about the attention dynamics of IM–specifically, Yanda said “the beauty of IM [is] continuous partial attention. The predominant way to use IM is when you’re doing something else.”

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Branded Mobile Apps: Entertainment vs. Utility

May 6, 2011

What makes a branded application worth downloading and interacting? Here are some top-level thoughts that I will continue to build upon in the coming weeks. My goal is to provide you with a framework for thinking about a branded apps. While the final build and concept will vary from brand to brand, here are some principles and tools to consider so that you can make the most of your investment in the mobile app space.

My research has led me to believe that applications usually fall under two value propositions: Entertainment or utility. Below is an amazing chart, compiled by Geoff Northcott, Client Partner at AKQA, of publicly available download data for branded applications. (Geoff, too, categorized the applications as Entertainment or Utilitarian.) Although these download numbers are circa 2010, I re-shuffled this data a little bit to make a point. I divided them into two separate charts: Entertainment vs. Utility and picked the best five branded applications in both sections with the highest download numbers.

Screen shot 2011-03-07 at 4.31.19 PM

The point of doing this was to illustrate the pros and cons of entertainment vs. utility in branded applications. Here is the breakdown:

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Transmedia Q+A: Aina Abiodun

April 28, 2011

On Tuesday night, JWT held the TransmediaNYC Meetup in our offices, hosted by Aina Abiodun. Guests included “Culture Hacker” Lance Weiler of Head Trauma and Pandemic fame as well as Feeder: A Love Story creator James Carter. Here are Aina’s thoughts about Transmedia:

Ad+Geek: Define Transmedia in your words.
Aina Abiodun: Transmedia is a style of storytelling in which one core narrative idea sprouts many rich, new story tentacles across media platforms. Adapting or repeating the same story over and over on different platforms doesn’t count. Each platform should deliver a completely new experience to the audience.

Ad+Geek: What are some of your favorite examples?
AA: The 2008 Presidential Election. I think it was the most supremely overlooked example of recent Transmedia. Look back closely at all the media artifacts of his campaign you will observe that Obama was in strategy and swagger, the real life John Wayne of our era. And his narrative played how all good stories play, with a hero, some fierce battles, and a transformation.

World Without Oil was also brilliant – and an often-cited example because it succeeds in pulling the viewer into the realm of real world issues in an immersive and engaging way across platforms. Laying out the conditions of a world oil shortage, the audience had to imagine and document their lives under those conditions.
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Facebook Pages, Take Two

April 22, 2011

Did you see the report wherein Forrester Research concluded that Facebook is a bad platform for brand building? (WSJ has a good synopsis here, and Gawker has a good headline here).  The Forrester study found that companies weren’t reporting much benefit from their Facebook campaigns, and that “offering promotions in exchange for people to ‘like’ their page were ineffective because most people ‘liked’ companies just for a discount.”

I’d posit that the survey points to dissatisfaction with Facebook tactics, rather than dissatisfaction with the Facebook platform. Users love Facebook, and the social graph that Mark Zuckerberg created is built for rapid influencer amplification. Perhaps marketers just aren’t using it in the right way.

The coverage of the Forrester report looks at Facebook’s efficacy as a brand-building platform, but that’s not really what Facebook is about, even though we try to use it that way. Take The New Yorker’s promotion last week, for example. Anyone who “Liked” The New Yorker’s Facebook page got free access to an excellent Jonathan Franzen essay.

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Emotional Billboards: The Idea Behind the Execution

April 15, 2011

Drivers waiting in traffic at the Holland Tunnel (which is a very common occurrence among New York commuters) have the chance to see the world’s first billboard with emotions. Using a smartphone app called GoldRun, created by Tronic, passerbys can see if the billboard is sad, happy, or excited about the Knicks making the playoffs for the first time since Ewing left.

People can also express their own feelings and share via social channels via the app which uses GPS-based, augmented reality.

The emotional billboard is part of Adstruc’s “Billboards for Everyone” campaign. It gives artists the chance to experiment with the use of billboards. The first, which debuted last month, was created by Shepherd Fairey’s Studio Number One.

Adstruc is an auction and listing-based marketplace for outdoor advertising. The effort is sponsored by JWT New York, Fuel, SPREAD Art and Culture magazine.

Ad+Geek caught up with Tronic co-founder Vivan Rosenthal to find out how the world’s first billboard with feelings was born:

Ad+Geek: A billboard with feelings? Where did that idea come from?
Vivian Rosenthal: I launched a mobile augmented reality (AR) app called Goldrun a few months ago. It brings together GPS, virtual goods and AR to allow for location-based advertising that is visually driven. [JWT Chief Creative Innovation Officer] James Cooper and [BA Reps] Louisa St. Pierre were both familiar with [the app] work and they approached me to collaborate on a billboard. I knew I wanted to create an interactive billboard that leveraged augmented reality and from there the idea emerged to design our own take on the Emoticon and use it to bring a billboard to life. This execution is just the beginning. Tronic and GoldRun are working on a number of projects that combine out-of-home (OOH) media with mobile in really new and exciting ways.

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#Social2011: The big picture

April 13, 2011

Social2011, Radian6’s first user conference,  was just right for a few reasons. First, it was narrowly focused. Everyone in attendance knew and understood that social listening is important and is an evolving practice that must be understood by social practitioners. For that fact alone, keynotes, panels and discussions were more engaging, direct and on-topic. Most sessions were “fluff-free” (thank goodness!).

It also felt very personal. By my guess, I’d say about 700 people were in attendance along with an army of Radian6 employees. Still, I didn’t feel like I was getting “sold” to the entire time. I felt like Radian6 was more interested in creating and showcasing a better tool, not just convincing us that they were the best that there is to offer. There are shortcomings in all social listening tools and I think Radian6 understands these limitations. Their product demonstrations and customer testimonials showed that they’re as interested as we (their customers) are in sourcing the most accurate information about our brands online in an efficient way.

A few examples of how Radian6 is helping brands listen in social included:

  • The American Red Cross is implementing social listening to engage their community during and outside of natural disasters. (Watch the closing Keynote to hear more from Red Cross Social Media Director, Wendy Hartman).

All in all, it was a strong conference, that probably could have expanded to another day with more emphasis on training. Next year at Social2012, I hope that the dialogue shifts from “social listening is important” to a greater focus on “social listening led to this great action and engagement.”

#Social2011: New Features coming to Radian6

April 13, 2011

During the opening keynote, Marcel LeBrun demoed three new features that will be rolling out in Radian6 over the next few months. These three new features aim to give the users quick, actionable information by cutting down time spent digging through data.

Radian6 Insights
Radian6 Insights is an integrated platform that uses 75 insight factors from four insight vendors (Klout, Open Amplify, Reuters Open Calais, PeekYou) to bring a deeper understanding to Radian6 information and results. Thanks to these new partnerships, the Radian6 Insight tool will help people interpret and digest information faster than before. Instead of having to manually sort through query results to get the big picture, Radian6 automatically draws conclusions based on search results. Say you’re wondering who was the most popular band, film, or keynote speaker at SXSW. No need to shuffle through conversation result to come to a conclusion because Radian6 Insights is set to do this for you.

Summary Dashboard
Radian6’s new Summary Dashboard provides an easy to read, high level snapshot of conversation volume, sentiment, trending themes and topics, key demographics, top influencers and competitors in real-time. This tool is perfect for brand and community managers who want a quick overview of details in real time. The Summary Dashboard is integrated with Raidan6 Insights and allows information widgets to be exported and embedded across the Web.

Radian6 Mobile App
For brands who require social media monitoring outside of the hours of 9-to-5, a mobile solution has arrived. With the Radian6 Mobile App (iPhone only at the moment, no word on Android or Blackberry version), users can open a “Summary Stack” to keep an eye on overall conversation volume and trends, sentiment, share of voice, share of conversation and top five countries. Borrowing features from the Radian6 Engagement Console, users have the ability to engage and respond to conversations while on the go. While the application isn’t as extensive as it’s Web version, Radian6 has created a product that customers have been asking about for sometime. A mobile application that keeps users connected to conversations about their brand just makes sense.

All in all, if these new features live up to their promise and hype, they will provide Radian6 users with more immediate insights to guide them in their interactions with online communities.

I’m waiting eagerly their debut.

#Social2011: Is “The Now Revolution” here?

April 12, 2011

After the opening keynote, I attended my first break out session, “The Now Revolution: 7 Shifts to Make Your Business Faster, Smarter, and More Social” led by Amber Naslund (who also happens to work at Radian 6). She and Jay Baer wrote a book with the same title and she was here to talk about how companies can equip their employees to respond and interact with consumers in real-time.

She started off by reminding the audience that sometimes organizations and brands create social media messes for themselves and that thanks to technology, we’ve adapted to the speed of business (telephone to fax machine, to email, etc.), but we haven’t adopted our businesses to the speed of social. Herein lies our problem.

To fix this, Amber suggests that companies must start from within. This means decentralizing communication and empowering all members to represent the organization online. Engaging all members ensures that consumers are taken care of in-real time and as Amber stated, “A committee meeting cannot be held every time the organization needs to respond to a consumer’s tweet.”

To alleviate apprehension that leaders may feel about decentralizing communication, set and determine guidelines and hire trustworthy people. Amber stressed that there was room for all members of an organization to be involved at some level, with varying responsibilities. Like a baseball team, the organization’s members must act together to accomplish the task (or win the game). This can’t be left to one person to do single-handily.

Towards the end of her presentation, Amber said something that made a lot of people around me nod in agreement. Social Media is just a role right now, but sooner or later, it wont just be a job, it’ll be a skill. We don’t have a manager of “the email” or of “the phone.” Those are just skills. I understand her point, and agree for the most part but I think that there will always need to be someone overseeing the social charge, even if the rest of the organization has mastered the social media skills.

In a few years, Amber predicts that every company will be social because consumers are demanding it. This isn’t a threat, rather it’s a huge opportunity to be highly in-tuned and engaged with consumers. To stay ahead of the curve, companies need to implement social listening programs throughout the whole organization because one day (thanks to social), all employees will become unofficial members of the marketing team.

Is the “The Now Revolution” here? I don’t think so, but it’s on its way.

#Social2011 Opening Keynote: A new + better way

April 7, 2011

#social2011 @Lebrun on stage keynoting #radian6 Thanking the community (photo via @rwang0)

I was a few minutes late to this morning’s opening keynote (silly registration lines), but when I entered the Pacific Grand Ballroom, I was met with a packed crowd. After some shimmying in the dark, I found a seat and settled in to hear Marcel LeBrun (CEO, Radian6) welcome those of us who’ve come to learn more about social listening and how Radian6 is making it easier and more accurate to do.

Jumping right in, LeBrun brought up some great fundamental thoughts about to social listening.

First, social listening allows us to engage with our consumers and audience when they’re at a point of need, rather than interrupting them when they don’t need or want to hear from us. This allows for and creates real-time, meaningful experiences and it changes the way we (should) drive sales.

Next, LeBrun advocated that brands move away from “what’s always been done” to “taking actions and being where our consumers are.” He used P&G as a great example. P&G invented the soap opera and for the past 77 years, they’ve been a leading sponsor for the daytime shows. Within the last year however, the decided to stop sponsoring the very entity that they created. Their consumer base has moved away from TV and they could better engage with them if they invested money and resources into social media.

Finally, he talked about the relationship between social media and trust. Whether we as marketers like it or not, consumers don’t automatically trust brands. They’re skeptical and understand that at the end of the day, brands are trying to sell them something.  Who they do trust however are their friends and those who they’re connected to via their social networks. A brand’s message is able to last longer on the web when it is propagated through a network of trust. So, when my friend sends me a cool video, my first thought isn’t, “They’re trying to get me to buy something.” Rather, I think, “They know me, understand my likes and interests and think that this is something I will enjoy.”

For brands to find success here, they should listen to and understand what their consumers are talking about online and take steps to create content tailored to their likes and interests.

Overall, LeBrun’s keynote highlighted a very important thing: this space is more than just social listening. It’s listening combined with effective action and engagement.

I couldn’t agree more.

(photo via @rwang0)