Archive for the ‘social’ Category

Why Doesn’t BP Crowdsource a Solution to the Spill?

While the LA Times and many others have written about this being a “public relations catastrophe”. I really just see the environmental catastrophe. BP’s PR problem is a direct corollary from that. Fix the environmental problem and you fix the PR problem. Now this is a BIG PROBLEM, one that would trouble a good number of scientific teams. So why leave the solution to just the inside team at BP? Why not get any accredited scientist willing to help?

Innocentive is a platform that allows for this to happen and they’ve issued such a challenge. What I don’t understand is why BP hasn’t stepped up with prize money to generously reward the group that comes up with the winning solution?

Entertainment and Meta Entertainment

What did we do before mass entertainment? How did we amuse ourselves? By playing games. First parlour games like charades, then board games like Monopoly. Then came the radio, movies, television, mass entertainment. In the popular telling of this history, we became passive consumers of entertainment…only we didn’t. While watching TV became a cornerstone of our culture, we found a way to participate through water cooler discussion. We’d come to the office with  “Did you see …?”, “Wasn’t it hilarious when…?”, “What do you think’s gonna happen when…” We had a natural instinct to want to participate. The brains behind the entertainment content clued in fast and figured they had a whole new product to sell, entertainment content about…entertainment. Access Hollywood, Entertainment Tonight, People Magazine.  Stories about the people making the stories that we all wanted to talk about. But now we’re living in a Post McCluhan world. The media is no longer the message, now the messenger is the message.  “The people formerly known as the audience” who have sort of participated in the creative process now they have easier access to the factors of entertainment production. They’ve become active participants. Some have even become co-creators (think of all the “Make McCain Great” entries on the Stephen Colbert show last year). Entertainment is no longer consumed at face value. Fans can quickly look up  behind the scenes stories and critical commentary but they also create parodies, spinoffs, fan fiction. This meta entertainment has become as important as entertainment itself.

9 Great Online Musical Performances

My inaugural list post, inspired by a recent share.

9. Food Court Musical

Eating lunch at a mall food court is one of those mind numbingly generic experiences. So when a group of actors spontaneously break out into song, it’s pretty neat. That the experience got shared to millions on YouTube made it even neater.

8. Airport Musical

Marketers will seize on any piece of culture if they think it can help sell product. This live commercial for London plays was on brand and well executed.

7. The Collected Works of Joel Moss Levinson

Joel Moss Levinson has made a career out of entering video contests with a musical comedy style that’s part Flight of the Conchords and part Adam Sandler. I’ve written about him before showcasing the Delta Airlines video. Below is his $100,000 win with Klondike. More Joel can be seen at

6. Paul Potts on Britain’s Got Talent

BGT had a knack for finding great musical performers from the most unlikely people

5. Susan Boyle
BGT does it again the following year.

4. ChatRoullette Piano

Just when you thought Chatroulette would turn into another fad “Merton” makes a video that just might give it a whole new audience

3. Gary Brolsyma’s Numa Numa song (properly called Dragonsta Din Tea)

If it weren’t for Gary Brolsyma’s lip synced video, what would’ve happened to O-Zone? Actually, what happened to O-Zone?

2. Canon Rock

Taiwanese guitarist Jerry Chang (Jerry C) plays a sick arrangement of Pachobel’s Canon in D

1. Eric Whitacre’s Virtual Choir

Only on the Interweb. Eric Whitacre gathers 185 voices in 12 countries and compiles this amazing virtual choir.

Giving 2.0

Personalized and Customized Works Best Online

There’s a key element to online shopping that can’t be replicated in the bricks & mortar world and it’s one that e-commerce vendors should take note.

1. The ability to browse endlessly through a multitude of combinations and permutations

2. The ability to customize ones order with great precision.

Or as Rory Sutherland put it so eloquently at TED

…if you’re on Expedia or you’re on easyJet you can interrogate your possible choices to a degree which, if performed face-to-face, would make you an asshole. If I spent three hours on the phone with a travel agent, and after three hours, I was saying, “And would it be 20p cheaper if I went on Wednesday?” unless I was an unbelievably thick-skinned individual, I’d be conscious of the fact that the guy was thinking, “This guy is a real pain.” Now, when I interact online, I can be as much of a pain as I like. I can be the world’s most-demanding, world’s worst customer and there’ s no one to mind.

That’s probably why travel was one of the first industries to go e-commerce mainstream. Not only are there psychological barriers but the economic incentives for commissioned travel agents are to get booked relatively quickly so they can move onto their next commission.

That got me thinking of other things where the online shopping experience trumps the real world because we don’t want to waste a sales person’s time.

Computers: Dell’s done well selling direct because for a lot of buyers, there’s way too many options, upgrades, and add-ons to consider.

Custom Clothing: They have your size but the wrong colour. The right colour but the wrong size. For some, clothing shopping is frustrating. Online shopping carries the uncertainty that what you buy won’t fit. That’s probably why T-shirts and shoes, which seem to have the most standardized sizes, have worked online. And when you’re talking customized a la or Nike ID, the possibilities (and browsing time) are endless.

Delivered Prepared Foods: Pizza Hut sold over $1 million worth of pizzas through its iPhone application. It makes sense. There are way more pizza toppings than there used to be not to mention crust and cheese options. Why trouble a phone operator? Online ordering can work for a variety of take out food that’s often customized. Think Sushi, Asian takeout, and Rotis.

Cars: Ok, we still want to go to the lot, sit behind the wheel, take in that new car smell and test-drive our new baby. But then we come to unpleasant part, haggling with salesperson. Moreover, we’re haggling before we decide all the options. Sure, you can build and price most cars on a manufacturer’s web sites before entering the dealership but they never include the after-market add-ons or dealership specific servicing options. Once you pick your base model car, it would be great if you could go home choose all your options, consult with whomever you need to, then go  back to the dealership to make a deal.

The Leafs Get Social

Dave Fleet’s going to a Leafs game, makes an off the cuff tweet about it, then gets an @reply from @mapleleafs followed by a direct message from the Leafs new  inviting him on a pre-game behind-the-scenes tour of the ACC given by Jonathan Sinden, the man behind the @mapleleafs and a member of the Leafs interactive marketing team.

Surprised and delighted, Dave blogs about the experience. Looking at the comments, some people are suspicious, (as was I). Dave’s blog is well read and he has lots of followers. In a way, this seemed like they were scanning twitter to see who was tweeting about the game and then approached Dave because he had a large follower count. As it turns out, that wasn’t the case. Jonathan Sinden had the idea of giving an enhanced fan experience to one of the Leafs twitter followers and Dave just happened to tweet at the right moment. That’s what he wrote in his comment on Dave’s blog and I believe him because the comment sounds very sincere and doesn’t sound like it was cleared through legal.

I like how this turned out as a rapid response initiative rather than part of a tight strategy (and this coming from a strategist). What I mean by that is, I can’t envision a long discussion at MLSE over how this is going to further business objectives and generate a great ROI. This had a “Hey I have an idea to enhance the fan experience that won’t cost us much, let’s try it out” kind of feel and that’s something more businesses should start doing more often. Leafs tickets are among the most expensive in the league and rightly so given demand in this hockey mad city and as a result, there seems to be a lot of corporate types at the games (well, at least in the platinum seats). With a random acts of kindness like this, one feels that the team does care about the average fan.

I’m not really friends with [brand name]

So Razorfish puts out a new FEED report and all marketing 2.0 punditry is aghast.  All the happy hippie, trippy things we’ve been telling brands to do like authentically engaging our consumer in a meaningful dialogue using social media because it’s, er, social has been all for naught. Turns out, when people ‘friend’ or ‘follow’ brands, they’re really just looking for a deal. All that time and money spent trying to figure out this social media thing could’ve been spent on coupons?

Folks, the sky isn’t falling.  Take a look at the data:

Reason for Following a Brand on Twitter

Reason you friend a brand on Facebook or MySpace

56.5% of those who follow a brand on twitter and 63.1% who friend a brand on Facebook or MySpace do it for some reason other than getting a deal. Deal seeking was the plurality of rationales but not the majority.

Second, what did you expect? Did we forget our 1% rule? Our Forrester technographics? It only takes one click to follow or fan a brand, it takes a lot more effort to evangelize. That’s why there’s more joiners and spectators than creators and critics. Not everyone in your digital embassy is going to be a brand ambassador. Like a real-life embassy, some functionaries are there because the job pays the bills and offers nice benefits.

Third, yes they want a deal but they still might be exhibiting a preference for your brand. What the study should have done is ask those who indicated that they were looking for a deal, whether they friended or followed a brand’s competitor as well. I’d be curious to know how many Coke fans are also Pepsi fans, how many Nike fans also follow Adidas. True deal seekers, the ones a brand wouldn’t want to be friends with, are brand agnostic; they’ll take whatever’s the cheapest. A person who genuinely prefers Brand X and sees an opportunity to join “club brand” due to “special offers” might be thinking, “I’m a good customer, I deserve something special from you, Brand X, in return.”

Whoah, whoah, wait a minute. Is that how to treat a friend? You’re only friends with that guy with season’s tickets so he’ll take you to a game? What about his winning personality? You’re shared values? Please forgive the marketer trained on “brand personality”, “brand as a person”, “personae development” and “personal brands”  for forgetting that brands are not actually people. They are representations of something to be purchased so our relationship to them is fundamentally a business transaction. Sure there are people who worship at the altar of your brand logo but those valuable customers are the exceptions. Here’s the deal <bad pun intended 😉 >, the deal may be the impetus for them becoming a “fan” but providing them with an engaging experience afterward might convert some into “true fans”. Deals bring them in, experiences keep them coming back.

A corollary to this, maybe we’ve infused the word “brand” with too much meaning and associations. Maybe we need to back to a simpler definition. How about, “the intangibles that cause people to prefer and value one product/service over others”

Passing Notes in the 21st Century

First of all. It’s great to be blogging again after a summer absence and I’m starting off by committing a bit of a blogger faux pas, I went to see Shel Israel speak at Third Tuesday and I’m waiting until now to write about it. Only I’m not really going to write about it per se.

See, one of Shel’s remarks about twitter was that as a consequence of twitter being so mobile friendly, more and more speaking gigs involved him lecturing to people’s foreheads as we live tweet his talk. And what is the nature of these tweets? They seem to fall into three categories.


At every event I go to I try to live blog great quotes for future reference. The benefit to speakers, they get real-time feedback on the most memorable parts of their presentation. Shel had a lot of great ones, but my smartphone fingers have yet to catch up to my computer typing speed. I have but one saved one and it might be a paraphrase:

“Lethal generosity is the key to screwing your competitors”

Note Passing

Here’s where people make snarky remarks or arrange for post-event drinks usually during the presentation. This is probably why teachers ban cell phones in the classroom. Social media speakers love it. Afterall, the more tweets about the event, the more publicity for the next event. NOTE to bar owners and restaurant owners, need incremental business? Scan the twitterverse for upcoming events near your establishment and make a customized offer to participants in the event.

Asking questions

If you’re shy or just couldn’t think of the right question during the Q&A period, here’s your chance.

I’m definitely mis-using the term but there’s a certain augmented reality experience in participating, tweeting, and reading other people’s tweets during an event or presentation. It’s like you’re experiencing the same thing on different planes. Plus it lets you reveal you’re inside voice…in a respectful way.

Why Kids Don’t Dig Twitter

There’s been a slew of articles and posts pointing out that unlike Kellogg’s Trix, Twitter ain’t for kids (See here and here). Why? Here’s my theory.

When you go to school (from nursery school up to 4th year university), your social life is laid out right in front of you. Forced into classes where for the majority of the day you’ll be spending close quarters with 20-30 other people your age, it’s a trial-by-fire lesson on navigating the social landscape and that forms the basis of your social life. You make friends in the offline world and you enhance those friendships in the online world. Email and later Facebook were perfectly suited to this social enhancement.

Then you leave school, when you do, you leave the convenient social life. You’ve grown apart from many of your own friends and meeting new people now takes effort. Lavalife and eHarmony have built their business on this insight. Twitter did so unconsciously. As I tweeted a while ago, “Twitter let’s you instant message the public”. The public, not your friends, not your acquaintances, but people you haven’t met yet…but might like to.

This is the crux behind Dave Allen’s post, Facebook Linkedin Twitter – Past Present and Future. Facebook connects you with your past friends and your current friends online. LinkedIn for the most part connects with you with professional contacts you’ve crossed paths with. Twitter’s an open network. You follow whomever you like, you @reply whomever you like, and Tweetups are generally open to anyone who knows about them. Twitter is the social network where you get to know new people. Something you really don’t need to make an effort to do when you’re young.

Joel, Please Don’t Jump the Shark

An open letter to Joel Moss Levinson:

Dear Joel,

I was looking for examples of entrepreneurial Gen Y’s and I came across an article in the New York Times about you. It’s my all-time favourite social media story. While everyone else was getting their 15 minutes of fame and then moving on with their lives, you figured out how to turn a hobby into cash…by entering viral video contests

Then I saw this video for Murphy Goode. Joel, what gives? What happened to the playful Flight of the Conchord-esque videos. This one was too earnest, you were trying too hard. I know, you didn’t get the Tourism Queensland Best Job Ever and that was very wrong of them. It’s possible they just didn’t want to give it to you because you won so many other contests. When I was in Australia, Americans were seriously underrepresented among the backpacker population and having you as their resident blogger would have gone a long way to getting more US visitors.

Don’t get bitter on me Joel; keep the smiles coming. For the rest of you, here’s my all-time favourite.

For more Joel Moss Levinson check out his blog