On Friday 17th May I had the chance to wear my kilt. I like wearing my kilt because it generally means one of two things: Either, someone is getting married or, some of our work has been nominated for an award…
The Rev Awards celebrate the best digital work from the UK (not the best sermons) and this year our work for Skype, CBS and Royal Mail was plucked from the entries and given pride of place on the nominations board. But it didn’t stop there. On the night we were chuffed to pick up Best B2B campaign for Real: The Physical Network, our innovative B2B project for MarketReach at Royal Mail, as well as a commendation for Say it with Skype – great recognition for everyone involved.
But wait! Just this morning, the month got even better as we discovered we’d been awarded not one but two Bees Awards – the international social media awards based out of San Francisco. This time Nokia Agora picked up and award alongside Say it With Skype – a fantastic scalp for the social and data teams at Nokia and 1000heads who’ve worked to create a product that’s useful, impactful and looks darn sexy too…
The great thing about picking up awards isn’t the dinner or the celebratory gin (it is this a bit though), but the knowledge that without a client, a brief, an insight, a strategy, an idea and an awful lot of hard graft from a lot of people – AKA ‘the work’ – it wouldn’t happen.
Here’s to plenty more great work (and congratulations to all the other winners too).
As predicted last week (we must have had our ears pressed firmly to the ground), Yahoo bought Tumblr on Monday for a whopping $1.1billion. All cash. That’s a lot of suitcases full of notes. In an attempt to attract younger players to the Yahoo brand, CEO Marissa Mayer said Tumblr was perfect to appear “cool and relevant’ and signposted that this deal represents ‘the stake in the ground of what her strategy is going forward for Yahoo.”
Announced last week, Twitter Cards now enable users to sign up for a product or service with a single click (no more filling out the same info on several forms). The Lead Generation Card - “makes it easy for users to express interest in what your brand offers. Users can easily and securely share their email address with a business.”
Smack bang in the middle of the day that Yahoo bought Tumblr, the Yahoo-owned photo storage giant Flickr went and got itself a makeover. It’s almost like it was planned… as Marissa Mayer explains: ‘We have a nice set of the creator brands. Photographers and writers. With that, there is natural set of opportunities that arise between Flickr and Tumblr and we’ll deal with that as it comes’. In a coup for users, alongside the revamp was the news that each account holder now receives 1 Terabyte of free storage – or enough room to park 537,731 photos. So get snapping!
Pinterest gets more…pinteresting
In a move aimed to broaden Pinterest’s appeal, it announced Wednesday that it would be partnering with individual brands to allow them to display deep dive data instead of simply linking back to the original item in the form of Product Pins. For example, a grocery store could pin a photo of a meal, and have the Pin display all the ingredients and prices needed to create it. Handy as it stops users ending up being directed somewhere else, able to “glean more information direct from the site…making the platform more attractive to advertisers in the process.” Are we looking at a ‘visual Google’ in the new age of SAO (Social Aggregation Optimization)?
Alongside the Xbox One announcement this week, Microsoft debuted Skype on the new device. Alongside group video calling (via the Kinect camera), the Xbox/Skype combo will allow you to share in-game (or in-movie) screenshots via the Snap feature of the console and the photo sharing capabilities of Skype. Voice commands will also be available making it “easy and natural for you to celebrate and experience the moments that matter to you—how and when you want, together, through your living room TV”.
…on your phone. Things just got interesting – and a little bit secretive – in the money-lending stakes. Square Cash, an invite-only page, purports to let friends send money directly to each other’s debit cards. We’re not sure whether this is a good idea, or has the potential to go very wrong (perhaps late at night, perhaps having imbibed a few adult beverages and feeling particularly friendly).
A Pew study has shown that online teens are spending less time on Facebook. It mentions ‘over-sharing’ and ‘drama’ as being turn offs and reasons for turning to other platforms such as Twitter (which has seen an increased usage among teens from 16% in 2011 to 24% today). Interestingly, Instagram, Google+, Tumblr and Pinterest don’t get much of a look-in among this demographic, with only 11%, 3%, 5% and 1% reach respectively.
Via a special dashboard, Twitter now allows campaign managers to monitor when a commercial has aired on TV and coordinate promoted tweets, pushing social interaction with live programming. Michael Fleischman of Twitter said that the new service uses ‘video fingerprinting technology to automatically detect when and where a brand’s commercials are running on TV, without requiring that advertiser to do any manual tracking or upload media plan details’. Instream broadcasting clips can also now be broadcast by a brand as part of Twitter Amplify, with BBC America, FOX, Fuse and the Weather Channel being among early adopters.
This week, Foursquare launched a more advanced suite of super-specific search options for mobile users looking to find relevant places of interest nearby. In a blog post, Foursquare showcased a number of sample searches as examples of how users might use the new functionality including. “One of the museums in Paris that my friend Matt went to last year, that’s also near my hotel.” and “A bar downtown that’s new to me, but that my friends have been to. Oh, and that has margaritas.” There is also the option to indicate the amount of money you’re willing to spend while searching for restaurants and the like using a series of pecuniary symbols like $, $$, $$$.
100 hours of video per minute…
..is the rate at which the 1 billion YouTube users (per month) are uploading to the service. Someone else did the maths, and that’s over 4 days of video uploaded every minute of every day. Helping the increase (from 72 hours per minute last year) are YouTube’s move into paid-for channels that are ‘aimed at rivalling streaming services like Hulu and Netflix’.
Rumours abound that Yahoo (fresh from buying Tumblr and revamping Flickr) are looking to move into the streaming video world with a reported bid for Hulu. Up against other bidders like Directv and Time Warner Cable, it looks as if Yahoo have thrown their hat into the ring too. To see the pricing, and find out the bidding history for the site, read more here.
App.net passes 100,000 users
ADN (as the service is sometimes known – App Dot Net) is an ad-free social platform popular with developers, and has both free and paid-for options. Free users can follow 40 other people and have 500MB storage on-site. Paid subscriptions keep the site clean of ads for both sets of users. The site is responsible for 1,500 developed apps, and has 150 in their app directory.
This week, Digg announced that Digg Reader, Digg’s Google Reader replacement tool will not come as a standalone app, rather as an addition to Digg’s current platform. Announcing the news at Internet Week New York, Andrew McLaughlin (CEO of Digg) said “aiming to build something that’s very clean, very simple and very fast.” The new service will include the ability to sort by popularity, and will be displayed in “a really clean, uncluttered way, with a lot of speed and performance”.
I’m new to 1000heads, and have often been asked by family and friends what it is we do. Here’s just one example.
We recently supported the Nokia US launch of the Nokia Lumia 900. The brand and international rap superstar Nicki Minaj teamed up to host a launch of epic proportions, live from Times Square. Local New Yorkers and tourists from around the world witnessed an exclusive visual and musical takeover, using nine immense CGI screens, crowned by a show-stopping performance from Minaj.
She performed a medley of songs from her brand-new album and then introduced the exclusive Nokia remix of her latest single ‘Starships’, featuring London-based DJ Doorly. Lucky fans in the audience were also filmed to appear in the official video for the Nokia ‘Starships’ remix.
And what was our role in all of this?
Prior to the takeover we invited bloggers from the worlds of music and technology to join us for the event. The bloggers, as well as New Yorkers in and around Times Square, had no idea what was planned. Aside from a few hints, everything about the event was secret. The only real clue was a giant blue box that had been planted in the middle of Times Square the day before the launch. The box was unbranded but for a distinctive clock that was counting down.
To add even more intrigue and mystery, on launch day we gave each blogger a scaled-down version of the blue box; inside was a pair of Monster headphones and a miniature countdown timer, synced with the main box.
To support the activity online we created a Facebook tab on the Nokia US page called ‘Lumia 900 Live’. The tab mirrored all activity leading up to the event on the ground, still giving nothing away. Then, post-launch, we ran a Facebook competition giving fans the opportunity to win a Lumia 900 signed by Minaj herself. The tab was also the home for the official video for the Nokia ‘Starships’ remix.
The trip was a blast for lots of reasons, the main one being getting to meet our bloggers face to face, and giving them an experience they’d never forget.
As a regular at Pho in Soho, and as a social media addict, I was immediately interested in the Foursquare competition running at my local branch. It awards each month’s ‘mayor’ a free bowl of Pho noodle soup.
While angling for a free lunch (or at least a bowl of noodle soup), my colleagues and I asked about the deal. We were surprised when our waiter confessed that we’d never be in with a chance of winning, because the branch manager checked in religiously every day, cementing his position as location mayor. My Pho fetish would have to be fed daily to rival his check-ins.
Turning to Twitter I shared the negative experience, tweeting that in my view the promotion was far from fair or honest. In response, Pho Restaurant gave a defensive and rather rude answer, seemingly challenging me on my report of the experience.
Perhaps the waiter got it wrong and the manager really wasn’t trying to win the free soup, but regardless, the response was defensive and disinterested – a classic case of bad customer service.
In contrast, when I tweeted about a negative experience I had in Tesco, the concerned and helpful tone of their practical response immediately turned a negative into a positive.
Time and again research and experience shows that something negative (or sometimes simply unusual) gets us talking, but this fundamental rule of customer services seems to be forgotten as often as it’s remembered.
This is not rocket science. And this is not about ‘knowing how to do social media.’ This is simple business sense. Face to face or via social media, a brand is really only the people who represent it, with all the complex emotions that drive their own behaviour. As we’ve discussed before, it’s important for brands to embrace their human side. But to make sure the rough never gets served up with the smooth, the right checks and balances are vital.
It’s increasingly important for brands to find more personal ways to communicate – but however ‘social’ the media, they need to be professional, too.
Augmented Reality apps aren’t new, but while playing around with Aurasma I started thinking about how I, as a consumer, am able to express my feelings about a brand.
I’ve never used AR before, so I started simple, creating a rudimentary example that exemplifies how I can, at the simplest level, say what I think about Marmite.
This love/hate example neatly fits in with the brand ethos of Marmite, which prides itself on the intense emotional response people have to its taste. But for any other brand there’s no doubt that a virtual sign shouting out ‘I hate’ whenever you point your phone at its label, could be seen as a problem. Brand vandalism, if you will.
Obviously, one of the glorious things about social media is that we can publicly comment on (and subvert) a brand however we see fit (as long as we’re not breaking any laws, that is). But we’ve seen how uncomfortable this has made brands in the past.
In 2009 Skittles turned its homepage into a live feed of consumer tweets, where any tweet featuring the word ‘skittles’ would be shown. But thanks to a lack of foresight (and appropriate language censors), chaos ensued.
Similarly, McDonald’s was hit during its ‘McStories’ campaign – when conversation about the brand was hijacked for the best part of a week, with a storm of complaints and vitriolic comment.
So are these sorts of AR apps about to make them terrified?
Well, perhaps. But in both these cases one could argue that the damage done to the brand was minimal. From a personal standpoint, if I’m craving a McFlurry on a sunny day, the likeliness of me being put off by a Twitter tag faux pas is frankly non-existent. But they do highlight a vitally important lesson; social means everyone can, and most probably will, have their say. Brands don’t get to choose who says what about them, whether online, in AR space, or in the real world. Social media and AR are simply new tools with which both brands, and their customers, can share their feelings.
What this does mean, however, is that brands that put themselves out there and encourage participation have to be ready for the consequences – and ready to respond to potentially controversial situations in an appropriate and positive way.
Beyond those instances where a person has a well-founded complaint, the majority of brand vandalism can be seen as silly, irreverent but also complimentary. If your brand excites and interests someone enough to generate an emotional response, even if it’s not on message, that should be welcomed and embraced.
Do the opposite by going on the offensive and you risk ‘doing a Nestle’, turning an opportunity to genuinely engage around an important issue into a potential PR disaster.
Ultimately, being part of the social environment means being part of the conversation. And just like in any conversation, confidence, humility, and not least a healthy dose of humanity, will prevail.
So don’t let the hijacking possibilities of AR put you off exploring an awesome new technology – just – like the proverbial Scouts, be prepared.
We’re currently doing some very exciting work with East Village. If you’ve not heard of it, East Village will become London’s newest neighbourhood after the world’s best athletes vacate the current premises after the 2012 Games. It will become a living, breathing community – providing homes for thousands of people and a long lasting legacy for East London.
East Village is driven by three core values: more time, more space and more choice. We’ve used these as the inspiration behind our work, to develop engaging and interesting ways to evoke a sense of community, excitement and anticipation around East Village.
After an intense brainstorm late on a Friday afternoon, with the goal of encouraging people to talk about time, the team came up with a peach of an idea. We’d offer someone the chance to have their very own PA for a day.
Asking people on the East Village blog, London Living, just what they would do with ‘more time’, we awarded one lucky winner the services of yours truly for a whole day (absolutely free, I might add).
The aim here was to provide a personal and unique experience, giving the East Village brand a recognisable face and a human quality at the same time. Like a personalised random act of kindness, this was about us going that one step further for our client, and one leap further for our audience – and about taking something online, and making it happen offline.
I never really considered being ‘auctioned’ off as a prize to a member of the public as part of my first permanent career role, but I nonetheless looked forward to it with a lot of excitement (and a bit of trepidation).
It was with a nervous skip in my step that I went to meet Julia, an aspiring writer currently working in film, at 7am sharp (I know – an early start!) at the Shoreditch Grind, a lovely East London coffee house that sits next to the bustling roundabout by Old Street station.
It seemed Julia could not get over the novelty of the situation at hand; she’d clicked onto our blog, commented under a post, and now she had someone at her beck and call for the whole day. She thought it was a fantastic idea and said she’d dreamt of having a PA for years!
Having got thoroughly stuck into Julia’s mass of short stories, creative scripts and sonnets, editing and collating material as I went along, I spent the day organising her work into digestible prose. It definitely wasn’t light work!
Yet it was clear when the day came to a close that I’d really made Julia’s day that bit better. We know that 90% of recommendations come from face-to-face conversations. In this sense, Julia experienced the East Village ethos through a personal experience, and we amplified this message through proactive engagement with a member of our community.
It’s amazing what physical interaction can do, and Julia was full of praise for the concept and the execution.
I’d like to think Julia’s nascent opinion of East Village is now very much one of advocacy and that we’ve shown East Village is more than just London’s newest neighbourhood.
Last year, Abi Sawyer, Senior Producer for Future Media at the BBC World Service visited 1000heads to update us on how such a complex and public organisation was embracing social. Molly wrote a great blog post about the insights we gained into balancing transparency and public content with journalistic rigour.
So when I stumbled across the announcement of the World Service80th birthday celebrations, I was intrigued to learn that it would be inviting the public to see behind the scenes of some of its programmes. Another ‘head and I duly headed over to Bush House for a glimpse at the mechanics behind World Have Your Say.
As an editorial manager I was naturally interested in seeing how the editorial meeting panned out; particularly as the agenda for the programme on this special occasion was to be set by the its vast audience of listeners from across the globe. Taking our place amongst a select group of live participants, we were given headphones to listen to the calls coming in from around the world as the WHYS editorial team planned that evening’s broadcast.
The calls came in from regions as diverse as Indonesia, Tunisia and China. Topics ranged from McDonalds’ newly unveiled plans to open another 225-250 new outlets in China, to Tunisian President Moncef Marzouki offering asylum to Syria’s leader Bashar Assad, each suggestion resulting in an intensive debate amongst the team and audience as to its value and relevance to the global community.
With this international conversation unfolding from a collection of tweets, messages, emails and calls, it was a brilliant example of how the BBC uses social media as a supporting voice when creating a cohesive deconstruction of global opinion.
Steve Titherington, World Service commissioning editor, said: ‘We are turning Bush House inside out, showing who we are and what we do and asking what the world wants next from the BBC World Service’, while Peter Horrocks, director of Global News, added: ‘These are historic and changing times for the World Service. We want our audiences to be at the heart of both the commemoration of the past and conversation about the future.’
For me, this tied nicely into Nokia’s announcement at Mobile World Congress that it would be taking the new strategic direction of ‘co-creation’, with fans invited to collaborate with the company’s marketing team to create more interest around the brand. In short, both the BBC and Nokia have recognised that involving their audiences increases trust in their brand and encourages more emotional attachment, as well as resulting in richer and more valuable content. In turn this creates advocacy, whereby fans want to share the work or concept they helped to create, and ultimately helps brands to take a real step towards being an integrally social business.
Even 80-year old, traditional and highly regulated organisations such the BBC World Service are fundamentally changing and embracing social. If they can do it…
We have a new look. Perhaps the result of a delayed January detox and an early Spring clean, we’ve tweaked our brand identity and revamped our website.
Yet while visual updates are refreshing and reinvigorating, what else has changed?
Mike Rowe recently talked about the journey we’ve come on, from humble beginnings in 1999 to more recent client wins, new hires and award successes. Over that time we have changed – in size and skill set – but what’s remained constant is our steadfast belief in Word of Mouth, conversation and sharing; in social communication.
And as the marketing and social landscape continues to change, at a rate nobody could have ever predicted, this ethos has never been more relevant.
So we’ve given ourselves a new look and used some new, simpler words to set out our stall.
Last week, my boiler broke down (bear with me I do have a point here). For two full days during one of the coldest weeks in the year I had no hot water or heating in my flat, and when I called British Gas I was quickly assured that an engineer would be round imminently to fix the problem.
In fact, I would go so far as to say that the person on the other end of the phone was charming, personable and efficient. I hung up feeling like a valued (albeit rather cold) customer, secure in the knowledge that I wasn’t going to be left to freeze. But no one turned up. Then, after waiting for more than ten hours, I had a call from the British Gas engineer to say he couldn’t make it that day and would come the next.
As a result, British Gas found its way into my bad books.
The point I want to make (see, I said I had one) is that despite the very good customer service I experienced from one part of the company (in this case, its call centre), the no-show and rather dismissive attitude of another part (the engineer) succeeded in tainting the whole of the British Gas brand for me. I even tweeted about it:
We at 1000heads are strong believers in the fact that in order to become successfully social, brands need to become more human. This is true both on and offline, whether the point of contact between a brand and an individual is someone sitting in a call centre, standing behind a counter or updating a Twitter feed or Facebook wall. People want to be able to put a face to a name, and a personality to a brand. That is what being social means.
But companies are often so preoccupied with ‘humanising’ and engaging people with certain aspects of their brand that they forget that for the average person, the brand is seen as a single entity; if they have a bad experience with one aspect of the organisation, then it will taint their perception of the brand as a whole.
The trick is to get the balance right. Being human should not mean losing sight of the overall message you want to promote, and being professional should not mean coming across as unapproachable or disconnected.
British Gas made the mistake of believing great call centre experiences are the key to customer loyalty, rather than customer service as a whole (although I should mention that it has since apologised and offered me compensation for the extra day I spent feeling like a polar bear in an ice storm). Others have cottoned on to the fact that maintaining a personable, human side to every aspect of their brand is crucial in making people believe and trust the services on offer. Take a look at this little gem. The sign could easily read “Please use other door”, but in saying so much more, it (ahem) says so much more about the brand beyond the doorway….