Two Twitter Tales

December 6, 2010

Coke’s got a good system planned for Piccadilly Circus that involves sticking “the people’s” tweets up on their panoramic-pixelator.  You Tweet in some suitable Christmas chatter to Coke Zone, they DM you 5 minutes before your Tweet is shown and then hey-presto, up she goes for the world to see.

This is nice because it will have the feel good quality that embodies the brand.  It taps into people using Twitter on their mobiles in the area (it must be geographic hot spot) and deepens the level of digital interaction people have with the brand.  It should also give a pretty hefty boost to the number of follower’s on Coke’s Twitter account.  It’s a nice quick turnaround too which works well if you’re getting people to interact via mobile (it taps into the super fast paced nature of mobile interaction I’ve talked about before here).

I came across Twournal a few days ago which seemed pretty neat.  I’m pretty partial to a good bit of archiving I have to admit but this seems to me like a solution to a problem nobody wants solving.  It’s got that post-digital feel but not much more to offer.  I think the number of people who have a Twitter history that merits being printed off and placed on a book shelf is few and far between.  It would have to be high quality stuff to justify the $15 price tag.  You’d be better off spending that on a book written by someone else rather than allowing yourself to go through the self-involved process of thumbing through your old Tweets.


Seal the Deal with Facebook

November 16, 2010

Facebook has put its pretty weighty cards on the table with ‘Deals’ that basically brings Foursquare/Gowolla to Facebook.  The main difference being that rather than a few million members, there’s hundreds of millions.

Hopefully they’ll bring in some extra features too (maps guiding you to the recommended ‘Deal’ / preferences for categories like on Vouchercloud).  Presumably bringing this features in before Facebook’s IPO is a tactical manoeuvre which will surely see that valuation bumped up a notch or two as well.

This is a good idea from TDA Boulder for FirstBank.  Providing people with downloadable content to their mobile when they want it.  Here QR codes allowed people to download Sudokus, crosswords and story books to their mobile device at the airport.

This is good because it really considers the user and there’s obvious benefits for people interacting with FirstBank’s billboard.  There’s the potential for a company to be making a journey just a little better for someone who has forgotten their travel size book of puzzles.  That’s a nice touch.

Last week Ali Crane, CEO of Grapple Mobile, visited Bristol to give a talk on, perhaps not surprisingly, mobiles.  In the end though he talked about a whole range of stuff from his own experience.  Here’s a few of the interesting points he made…

1 – Windows Phone 7 will be a success

2 – soon apps are going to start working within other apps a lot more seamlessly.  This sounds similar to the prolific use of Google Maps in loads of different apps but I suppose there are other even more productive combinations.

3 – the mobile advertising platform Blyk was just ahead of its time and there’s still potential for a service that provides free minutes and texts in exchange for advertising space on phones (in address books /  as ring tones / on your home screen).  The fact that it hasn’t worked so far won’t mean it won’t in the future.

4 – the importance of being agile in your first year of business.

5 – soon brands will be creating packages of apps that work with certain telecoms providers.  So for example, Vouchercloud, Foursquare and Byline would only be available on Orange and then the Guardian app and Videojug only on O2.  I suppose though the really big apps like Facebook, Twitter and Nike+ wouldn’t be involved in this.

6 – video calls are looking like they’re only going to be niche thing (makes sense – never really considered using Facetime myself – seems a bit strange) and are just waiting for an interesting 3rd party application to come along.

One of the main points he made was just how important it is to consider the user with mobile and that often it’s the simple, clear solutions that will be the most successful.

Mundane Weaving

October 27, 2010

Here’s a pretty uninspiring use of Facebook Places in combindation with a billboard.  Surely there’s better ideas out there for Places rather than reverting to dull competitions.  I think these sorts of ideas will die-a-death pretty quickly because people are used to having real, instant value when they intereact with brands on mobile.

How does a 1 in a 10 000 odds competition compare to using Vouchercloud to get 50% off dinner?  Not very well for me.  The nature of mobile is that engagement often comes in limited time periods so people are just not going to start dilly dallying around with naff competitions when they can spend the time getting money off their chicken dinner.

Here’s an idea that’s more like it…


Mobile Pinching

October 25, 2010

The growth of mobile as a platform presents a problem for brands trying to engage with consumers.  Mobiles are tough for brands to operate on.  Peter Sells has suggested that so far mobile marketing has been found wanting.  But mobiles are an inherently difficult space for a brand to occupy because of a ‘pinching’ effect that takes place on the platform.

Telecoms companies have never needed money from advertising so unlike newspapers there’s no dedicated space for advertising to be placed.  As a direct consequence of this, mobile users have become used to a platform free from advertising.  Few of us could deny that we’d be shocked if the next time we opened up our address book we found that there was banner add below our most frequently dialed number.

So the advertising space is basically pinched by telecoms companies not surrendering the space and users not wanting interference.  Mobile space is at the very sharp end of all the well-documented changes that digital technologies have brought in (opt-in / consumer choice / peer-to-peer advice / the collapse of captive audiences).

So what can mobile do?  Well I think Peter Sells gets it spot on when he says that you have to always consider the end user.  It’s probably also worth bearing in mind Faris Yakob’s idea of the ‘constant now’ (something I’ve mentioned previously in a post on real world gaming).  People are going to want brands to be both timely and useful (I’m fully aware this is no eureka moment).  It’s quite hard for a brand to do these things though within their own remit and values.  Aston Martin can’t just start providing DB9 on request via a mobile app.  However, interacting with real world content like the ‘Monumite’ through mobile is one great option…

Mobile devices allow ‘worshippers’ to check-in on Facbeook Places and Foursquare merging the digital and the real.  There’s also specific content available to download to your phone at the site.  But it’s still not a mobile specific campaign.  Perhaps such a thing just won’t work and any mobile advertising model that develops will be based around real-world interaction?  Surely there’ll be some really exciting changes in the next 5 years or so as smartphone growth continues at pace.  Even search advertising on mobiles is coming under threat with the ever expanding app market.

Based on a recent Ofcom study it looks like branded content is going to be an ever more growing tactic in the great bar brawl that is the 21st century branding popularity contest.

When it comes to change in communication and technology anyone who professes to know exactly what’s going on is bending the truth.  I don’t think anyone can deny though that digital is bigger than ever before and that it has the potential to produce some pretty wicked stuff (Nike Grid and Old Spice being two good’uns). The reality I reckon is there’s some sort of middle ground between those who are outright cynics of Microsoft Office’s future and the fully fledged suckers who think that sometime tomorrow afternoon we are going to be using smartphones to order a drink at the pub.  Basically somewhere in the middle of this stand off here.

What I hope is that we get to see better stuff.  Whether it’s branded, sponsored or publicly funded I’m not that fussed.  Just make sure it’s worth watching and good.  The shareable factor will follow suite if people feel that way inclined.

Arts funding is a pretty revelatory subject at the moment.  The government seems to be debating whether it should fund the arts at all right now (fair enough, it’s a good debate) and inevitably there’s bound to be a bit of tension.  What’s the point subsidising contemporary art galleries because in ten years time what they’ve got in the lockers isn’t contemporary?  Surely they’d be better off funding themselves by buying and selling art to keep contemporary stuff coming in.  Obviously this argument doesn’t really stand for a 19th century Impressionist gallery.  In reality then brands are going to end up pumping cash into quite a bit of content / sponsorship.  This fact has created a bit of a mess at the Tate and raises questions about what content / experiences are most worthwhile for brands to indulge in and how they should go about it.

I think that the classic content framework is evolving quite quickly.  What started out as just paying for something for people to watch and sticking a logo in the credits has become more experience / involvement based (there’s definitely still room for this if it’s done really well… Red Bull being the ultimate example but Coke’s energy drink Burn also had a good video recently see below).

This more experience based model where we don’t just watch but take-part in the brand’s content is something a few brands are getting good at it…

Orange has attempted to become synonymous with cinema.  It’s a big, clear simple aim and this ad sums up why they’re going about it in the right way.  Good effects, standing for something and well executed.  They’ve dedicated time and effort to become associated with a whole content category.  Some ambition.

They’re also following Nike’s lead and testing the water with a broad spread of ideas and seeing which pay off: Movie Mates and Tweetagrams.  You can’t really say that in the future brands just need to create ‘ideas’ that people want to spend time with, because firstly, time is becoming the new frankincense, and secondly, that’s what they’ve always tried to do with engaging advertising.  Instead brands should now be trying to provide value (whether it’s sponsoring the Turbine Hall, providing entertainment with novelty vending machines or helping people monitor their running progress).  The digital consumer has options and choices.  They’re far more likely to opt in if the ‘content’ has value.